Cardinals Major League Notebook: 04/16/10

Three times in three chances in 2010, the Cardinals could not finish off game three for a sweep. The latest was at home on Thursday afternoon against Houston, who won their first game of the season in nine tries.



For the third time this young season, the Cardinals won the first two games of a series but then couldn't close the door. After winning two of three from Cincinnati and Milwaukee, losing the final game each time, the Cardinals had taken two straight from Houston before dropping a 5-1 decision to the Astros Thursday.


Spoiled was a strong, seven-inning performance by right-hander Kyle Lohse, who gave up just two runs, marking the seventh time in nine games that a Cardinals starter had given up two runs or fewer.


"I felt like I was cruising along there," said Lohse, who didn't give up a hit from the fourth through the seventh.


Lohse left trailing 2-1 but could have helped himself if he'd had a better break from second on Ryan Ludwick's two-out single in the third inning. Third-base coach Jose Oquendo had to stop Lohse and couldn't start him up again when Astros center fielder Michael Bourn dropped the ball as he prepared to make a throw home.


"Just a bad read, bad jump," Lohse said. "I should have been able to probably score on that one. I know Bourn doesn't have the best arm. I knew there were two (outs). ... It would have helped out there."


Albert Pujols then fanned for the final out of the inning.


ASTROS 5, CARDINALS 1: The Cardinals had their usual trouble with Houston right-hander Bud Norris, who held them to one unearned run in five innings and struck out nine. They haven't scored an earned run against Norris in 18 innings over three starts covering two seasons. Third baseman David Freese drove in the only Cardinals run with a fourth-inning single.




--3B David Freese hasn't had many hits, but he has delivered five singles in six at-bats with runners in scoring position, driving in five runs. On the other hand, LF Matt Holliday has one hit in 11 at-bats with men in scoring position.


--C Bryan Anderson got his first major league at-bat when he lined out on the first pitch he saw in the ninth inning as a pinch hitter. Manager Tony La Russa has indicated he will give Anderson some playing time but did not suggest when, because regular C Yadier Molina hasn't had to endure many long games or bad-weather games so far. The Cardinals are in the midst of eight straight games, though, so there is a possibility Anderson will start next week in Arizona. Anderson was called up from Class AAA Memphis when backup C Jason LaRue strained his right hamstring.


--RHP Kyle Lohse is not much for extra bases. His double in the third was his first extra-base hit since Sept. 3, 2008, when he doubled at Arizona. But he is 9-for-27 (.333) against Houston.


--RHP Chris Carpenter, who has given up five home runs in 11 innings over two starts after permitting just seven all last season, said he intends to step up his concentration on keeping the ball down when he faces the New York Mets in St. Louis on Friday night. Scouts have wondered about Carpenter's relatively low velocity early in the season, but Carpenter says his often troublesome arm is fine.


--The Cardinals' staff had gone 20 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run to start the home season before the Astros scored twice in the third Thursday. RHP Kyle Lohse and RHP Chris Carpenter are the only Cardinals to give up more than two runs in a start with one each. Lohse pitched well Thursday, though, allowing just two runs in seven innings.


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) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 12.

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