Cardinals Major League Notebook: 04/13/10

Everything was right for the home opener as Albert Pujols and Adam Wainwright led the St. Louis Cardinals to a 5-0 win over the Houston Astros.

INSIDE PITCH

 

There aren't too many things Albert Pujols hasn't done for the Cardinals but, for the first time in his career, he has put together back-to-back games of four runs batted in.

 

With Stan "the Man" Musial in the house, Pujols -- the Cardinals' best player since Musial -- cracked a three-run homer in the home opener after hitting a pair of two-run homers the day before. Pujols has 14 RBI in the Cardinals' first seven games and finally solved Houston's Wandy Rodriguez, against whom he had been 5-for-31 without a home run until Monday.

 

Pujols' .161 average against Rodriguez was his lowest against any left-handed pitcher whom he had faced at least 20 times.

 

And, oh yes, there was a shutout in a Busch Stadium opener for the first time since March 31, 1998, when Mark McGwire's grand slam sparked a 6-0 win over Los Angeles. On this occasion, Adam Wainwright pitched eight innings.

 

"Adam was incredible," said manager Tony La Russa. "Albert's just amazing. Here's a guy, Rodriguez, who's rougher on him than anybody.

 

"We beat an excellent starting pitcher today. You get Albert out, you know that you're special. But that brings out the best in Albert.

 

"They know each other well. Wandy has had shouting rights for a while. At least for a day, Albert can chirp a little bit if he wants to. But that's not his style."

 

CARDINALS 5, ASTROS 0: RHP Adam Wainwright allowed just seven baserunners (six hits, one walk) and fanned seven in eight innings as he won his second start of the season. 1B Albert Pujols drove in four of the five runs and RF Ryan Ludwick, who had just three hits in 21 at-bats in the first week of play, had three singles and a triple and drove in a run.

 

NOTES, QUOTES

 

--RHP Adam Wainwright almost came out for the ninth inning. But, after consulting with pitching coach Dave Duncan and cognizant that Wainwright had thrown 105 pitches already, manager Tony La Russa changed his mind. "It's just needless pitches," said La Russa. "If I didn't think he had a chance to pitch in October, he would have pitched (the ninth). I think we have a chance, so all those pitches go in the bank." Wainwright is 8-1 with a 1.72 earned-run average against Houston in 10 career starts. That is the lowest career ERA against Houston for any pitcher with at least 50 innings against the Astros.

 

--1B Albert Pujols is 14-for-32 with 14 runs batted in for his 10 Cardinals home openers. Pujols also never has hit five home runs so quickly in a season -- he's done it in seven games. "I guess it was the rest I got in spring training," quipped Pujols, who missed time twice with a lower back ailment. Pujols' start is the best by a Cardinal for home runs since Lou Brock hit five in his first four games and six in his first seven in 1967.

 

--It was a hitting coach's dream. The Cardinals did not swing and miss at any of Houston LHP Wandy Rodriguez's 65 pitches. Meanwhile, RHP Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals threw 73 strikes in 105 pitches.

 

--C Jason LaRue, who suffered a right hamstring injury on Sunday night, might well be placed on the disabled list before Wednesday's game, the next time the Cardinals play.

 

--C Matt Pagnozzi would be recalled from Class AAA Memphis if Jason LaRue (hamstring) goes on the disabled list.

 

BY THE NUMBERS: 12-0 -- RHP Chris Carpenter's record against National League Central Division teams over the last two seasons. He was taken off the hook Sunday night when he allowed seven runs in five innings only to have his team rally to tie the game in the ninth.

 

QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's always my goal -- to outlast the other starter." -- RHP Adam Wainwright, after working seven innings, one longer than Cincinnati RHP Johnny Cueto, in his first start of the season.


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