Cardinals Major League Notebook: 04/15/10

Brad Penny handled the anxious and winless Houston Astros Wednesday night at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals have won the first two games of each series and lost the third games on walkoffs. They will try to break the pattern on Thursday afternoon.

INSIDE PITCH

 

Cardinals right-hander Brad Penny, who compiled a 4-1 record in his last six starts with San Francisco last year, has attributed his strong finish to the use of his sinkerball.

 

While he said he didn't throw an abnormal amount of sinkers Wednesday night when he beat Houston 2-1 for his first victory as a Cardinal, Penny nonetheless recorded 12 of his 21 outs on groundballs.

 

"When you pitch up in the zone, you get hurt," said Penny, who got 13 groundball outs in his first start at Cincinnati last week.

 

Penny, in two starts, has given up just one earned run in 14 innings, continuing a strong trend of Cardinals starting pitching. In six of eight games, Cardinals starters have given up two earned runs or fewer. Not coincidentally, the Cardinals are 6-2 for the season, and they have either led or been tied until the last pitch of every game.

 

The club's only two losses have come on walk-off homers against the bullpen, but three relievers shut the door Wednesday on Houston, with right-hander Ryan Franklin needing just six pitches in the ninth inning to record his third save in three tries.

 

"It really surprised me how aggressive they were," Franklin said. "I guess it probably had been around that I don't walk too many people.

 

"But if you're down one run, guys usually take one (pitch) or something. They were pretty aggressive, but it worked out to our advantage."

 

CARDINALS 2, ASTROS 1: For the third straight series, the Cardinals have won the first two games. In their first two, at Cincinnati and at Milwaukee, they lost the last game of the series, a statistic the Cardinals hope to correct on Thursday. 1B Albert Pujols' run-scoring single in the first highlighted a two-run inning.

 

NOTES, QUOTES

 

--After the first inning Wednesday, the two teams combined for five hits the rest of the way, three by Houston. There were four hits total in the first inning.

 

--RHPs Adam Wainwright and Brad Penny haven't given up an earned run in more than 15 innings, covering the team's last two starts. Penny has permitted just 11 baserunners over 14 innings in his first two starts with the Cardinals.

 

--RF Ryan Ludwick, with a first-inning single, extended his streak of consecutive hits to five (he had four on Monday). Ludwick, who was 2-for-4 on the night, is batting .310 after starting 3-for-21 (.143).

 

--With C Jason LaRue going on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring, C Bryan Anderson was summoned from Class AAA Memphis. Anderson was hitting .333 for Memphis, and his defense had improved, according to Redbirds manager Chris Maloney and Cardinals special assistant Mike Matheny, a former Gold Glove catcher with St. Louis.

 

--The Cardinals bullpen has inherited five runners this season, and none has scored. LHP Denny Reyes has stranded four of them.

 

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.

 

ROSTER REPORT

 

MEDICAL WATCH:

 

--C Jason LaRue (strained right hamstring) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 12.


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