Cardinals Major League Notebook: 04/24/10

No part of the Cardinals' game, pitching, hitting or defense, was crisp Friday night as the Giants won in the series opener in San Francisco.



The Cardinals will be put to the test to win their sixth consecutive series at the start of the season. For the first time this year, they lost Game 1 of a series when they played a far from crisp game Friday night in San Francisco.


The Cardinals were just 1-for-12 with men in scoring position, with Yadier Molina driving in a run with a sixth-inning single. "We had our shots," said manager Tony La Russa. "We did a good job of creating chances."


Entering the game, the Cardinals were the top defensive team in the National League, committing only eight errors in 15 games. But a throwing error by shortstop Brendan Ryan -- the one-hop throw got past first baseman Albert Pujols -- allowed one run to score and a botched double-play ball by second baseman Skip Schumaker helped the Giants to two runs in the third inning. Pujols also was indecisive after fielding a slow roller in the third and and Nate Schierholtz beat the play for a run-scoring hit.


After taking on the best pitcher both the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets had to offer, rookie left-hander Jaime Garcia wasn't able to beat San Francisco ace Tim Lincecum. Garcia, who had given up just one run in 14 innings over two starts and one hit in seven innings in his last start, suffered his first loss and didn't have his command. After besting Gallardo and battling Santana even for seven innings, Garcia gave up four runs (two earned) in six innings and wild-pitched one run home.


"I was leaving the ball up a little," Garcia said.


Cardinals hitters struck out 12 times, with Pujols having his third multi-strikeout game in three weeks. Cleanup man Matt Holliday left runners in scoring position in both of his first two at-bats, including hitting into a double play on a 3-0 pitch to end the third. Holliday is two for 19 (.105) with men in scoring position.


"I wanted him swinging," said La Russa. "That's why I gave him the green light."


GIANTS 4, CARDINALS 1: The Cardinals had eight hits and three walks against San Francisco RHP Tim Lincecum and successors but could muster just one run. Only C Yadier Molina had more than one hit for the Cardinals.




--INF Felipe Lopez, still bothered by a sore right elbow, which wasn't helped by his pitching an inning last Saturday, didn't start for the third straight game. Lopez pinch hit in the ninth and struck out.


--LHP Jaime Garcia got his first major-league hit, an infield single in the fifth inning. Despite suffering his first big-league loss, Garcia still has a 1.42 earned run average and is holding opponents to a .190 batting average. He also induced 12 ground-ball outs in six innings.


--OF Nick Stavinoha, who has become the Cardinals' pinch hitter, got his third pinch hit in 10 at-bats. Stavinoha kept the game alive with an infield single in the ninth.


--C Yadier Molina, the slowest player in the regular lineup, stole his second base of the season -- without a throw. Molina, who is good at picking his spots, had nine thefts last year.


--RF Ryan Ludwick, who has played well defensively all season, made a diving catch to rob Giants CF Andres Torres in the fourth.


BY THE NUMBERS: 652 -- Pitches thrown in the Cardinals' 2-1, 20-inning loss to the Mets on April 17.


QUOTE TO NOTE: "I've got to say that's up there with one of the highlights of my career. That was something I always wanted to do -- to go on the mound and see how that felt. It was pretty awesome." -- INF Felipe Lopez, on his first professional pitching appearance. He threw a scoreless inning against New York in the 20-inning game.






--INF Felipe Lopez (sore right elbow) didn't start April 21-23 because of some lingering soreness from an injury he suffered about 10 days before. He pinch hit April 23 but still has soreness.


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

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