Cardinals Major League Notebook: 10/11/09

The Dodgers eliminated the Cardinals from the playoffs with a three-game sweep, concluding with a 5-1 win at Busch Stadium on Saturday that didn't feel that close. Joel Pineiro took the loss for St. Louis.



   The burning statistic the Cardinals will stew about this offseason is their 4-for-30 performance with men in scoring position against the Dodgers in the National League Division Series.


   Albert Pujols, by the Dodgers' design, had only one shot at hitting with a runner in scoring position, and he delivered a run-scoring single in the eighth inning for the Cardinals' lone tally Saturday. Los Angeles won 5-1 at Busch Stadium to complete a three-game sweep.


   Matt Holliday was a prominent figure in the Cardinals' late-summer run to the division title, but except for a second-inning home run in Game 2, the Dodgers held him to one harmless single.


   "With him (and Pujols) back to back," Los Angeles pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said, "you go with one or the other. No disrespect against Holliday because he's had good success against our club in the past, especially when he was with Colorado, but he's still not quite Albert. If we were going to pitch to somebody ... well, Albert wasn't going to beat us. If somebody was going to beat us, it was going to have to be Matt."


   Joel Pineiro was no better Saturday than he had been for most of the last month. His sinker not sinking, Pineiro allowed four runs and seven hits, including Andre Ethier's two-run homer, in four innings.


   "More than anything, he had quite a few pitches he got up," manager Tony La Russa said. "That's a tough way for him to pitch."


   Pineiro gave up four runs or more for the sixth time in his last eight starts. Of the 12 total home runs he permitted this season, four of those came in his last four starts.


   DODGERS 5, CARDINALS 1: The Cardinals failed to win a postseason game for only the second time in their 22 postseasons (they were blanked 4-0 in the 1928 World Series). After leading most of the way in a stunning Game 2 loss, the Cardinals never led Saturday. The Dodgers scored a first-inning run on Manny Ramirez's double, the first of his three hits, and the lead grew to 4-0 through four innings.




   --The Cardinals had only seven hits with two outs in the series and were outscored by the Dodgers 9-1 in two-out spots. Their best chance to score with two outs came in the first inning Saturday after CF Colby Rasmus walked to load the bases for C Yadier Molina. But Molina grounded out.


   --The Cardinals never had lost a postseason series to the Dodgers and never had lost a division series at home. They are 6-2 in division series.


   --RHP Adam Wainwright, but for his team's ninth-inning breakdown Thursday, would have scored his 13th road win out of 14 decisions. Wainwright allowed the Dodgers to have more than one runner on base in just the eighth inning, as Los Angeles had trouble tracking his curveball when the shadows crept across Dodger Stadium.


   BY THE NUMBERS: 58 -- Strikeouts for RHP John Smoltz in National League Division Series play. It is a league record.


   QUOTE TO NOTE: "They beat us to the punch all night, so give them credit. We didn't do anything with their (pitchers)." -- Manager Tony La Russa, after his team had been swept out of the National League Division Series.




   --RHP John Smoltz, who fanned five batters in a row in one stretch covering the sixth and seventh innings, made his 41st postseason appearance and 16th in the division series. Smoltz, 42, hopes to pitch again next season after a strong showing with the Cardinals the last six weeks of the season after they picked him up from Boston.


   --Backup C Jason LaRue got his first at-bat in a postseason game when he pinch-hit in the eighth inning. He popped up. OF Rick Ankiel, a pending free agent likely playing his final game for the Cardinals, fanned to end the game as a pinch hitter.


   --1B Albert Pujols had two hits Saturday to post his 20th multi-hit game in the postseason. The Cardinals are 14-6 in those contests.

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