Cardinals Major League Notebook: 04/14/10

St. Louis Cardinals right-handed pitcher Adam Wainwright is still looking for his first career shutout while making an early case for his first All-Star selection.



Right-hander Adam Wainwright has been a Cardinals postseason hero as a closer (2006) and has been a 19-game winner as a starter (2009), but there still is a major accomplishment he hasn't been able to achieve in his 11-season pitching career. For all his good works, Wainwright never has had a shutout.


He came close Monday in beating Houston 5-0 in the Cardinals' home opener. Wainwright navigated eight innings while allowing just six hits but, after some deliberation, manager Tony La Russa pulled him for the ninth inning after Wainwright had thrown 105 pitches.


"There's not much debating a Hall of Famer (La Russa)," said Wainwright. "If he says you're out, you're usually out."


At the end of the top of the eighth, Wainwright said, "I was hoping he wouldn't be standing right there when I walked down the stairs, because when he gives you that hand, you have to slap it and that's it. I didn't see him on the first two steps (of the dugout) and all of a sudden he was there."


While the other half of the Cardinals' 1-2 starting tandem, right-hander Chris Carpenter, has struggled, giving up five home runs in 11 innings, Waiinwright has been scored on in only one inning of 15. Cincinnati's Orlando Cabrera hit a two-run homer in Wainwright's first start although Wainwright won that one, too.


Wainwright is aiming for another accomplishment -- his first All-Star team -- and he's headed in the right direction.




--It took former Braves slugger Eddie Mathews 10 full seasons to hit 370 home runs -- a record for a player's first 10 years in the majors. 1B Albert Pujols, who has five in the first seven games of this season, now holds the record for the first 10 years at 371 and has 155 games left in this season. And Pujols, bothered by a sore elbow on which he has had surgery, didn't hit a homer in his final 89 at-bats of last season.


--RF Ryan Ludwick had just three hits in 21 at-bats until, batting second, he had four hits Monday. He might stay in that spot for a while. "It has built-in advantages (hitting in front of Pujols)," said manager Tony La Russa. "But the reason we put him there is because it is advantageous to us. Our lineup looks better when he hits second."


--C Jason LaRue, who suffered a strained hamstring while running to first base on Sunday, said he was much improved Monday but will have to have significantly more improvement Wednesday before the Cardinals could choose to keep him active. "I'm not the fastest guy in the world," said LaRue. "I've got to be able to at least run."


--3B David Freese, who had a horrid game Sunday, making two errors that led to two unearned runs, played flawlessly in the home opener Monday before many of his friends and family from his native St. Louis. Freese also had a single and a double, which was his first extra-base hit of the season. "This is what's beautiful about baseball," said Freese. "You get another chance tomorrow."


--St. Louis fans will get their first look at RHP Brad Penny in a Cardinals uniform when he opposes Houston RHP Brett Myers on Wednesday. Penny allowed just one run in seven innings in his first start, a no-decision at Cincinnati.


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.






--C Jason LaRue (strained right hamstring) was injured April 11 and appeared headed for the disabled list.

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