Cardinals Major League Notebook: 04/28/10

The Cardinals take their first two in the homestand after defeating Atlanta on Tuesday night. The pitcher batted eighth and Jason Motte earned his second career save.



Ryan Franklin, who had recorded saves the previous two days, got his night off Tuesday, and the Cardinals bullpen closed out another win -- but it wasn't easy.


Manager Tony La Russa went for the gusto when he pinch-hit for starter Chris Carpenter in the sixth inning after Carpenter had thrown only 89 pitches. With two runners on base and St. Louis ahead by three runs, pinch hitter Jon Jay tapped out. Then La Russa felt compelled to employ four relievers in the seventh as the Braves cut the lead to 5-4.


In the eighth, right-hander Jason Motte, who hadn't had a save since his only one, on Sept. 18, 2008, was asked to get out of that inning -- and the ninth.


Despite some control issues, Motte, who walked two in 1 2/3 innings, did record the save, and the Cardinals had their third straight win.


Motte, who was the Cardinals' closer for about one game last year after he blew the save on Opening Day, has been flawless since his first two games of this season, when he allowed a run in each game and suffered a loss. In his last eight outings, he has worked eight scoreless innings. Motte even turned in a sliding defensive play in the eighth after Eric Hinske's grounder to the mound glanced off his glove.


As for why he hit for Carpenter, La Russa said that his veteran right-hander, who turned 35 on Tuesday, wasn't going to pitch long into the seventh anyway, so he wanted to take a shot at expanding a 5-2 lead.


"We weren't feeling too good about sending him out there," La Russa said. "He had really worked hard. He would have gone out there, but he would have gone out there with a very short leash."


Yadier Molina has been the offensive hero often this season despite his modest .250 average. After doubling home the winning run Monday, Molina snapped a 2-2 tie with a two-run single in the sixth after Colby Rasmus had been walked ahead of him to load the bases.


"He likes to be in that situation," said La Russa of Molina, who has 13 RBIs on only 17 hits.


CARDINALS 5, BRAVES 4: For the second game in a row, the Cardinals overcame an early Atlanta lead. After erasing a 3-0 lead Monday, they spotted the Braves two early runs Tuesday before Ryan Ludwick homered off Derek Lowe for a run in the fourth and doubled home the tying run off Lowe in the sixth. Ludwick is 8-for-13 with three home runs in his career against Lowe. His blast Tuesday was the first homer hit into the third deck at Busch Stadium this year.




--Among the four pitchers manager Tony La Russa employed in the seventh inning, two were left-handers, which is an unusual move by La Russa since he has only two lefty relievers. But Dennys Reyes got one out and then Trever Miller ended the inning by fanning Atlanta RF Jason Heyward. Miller also fanned the only man he faced in the eighth.


--LF Matt Holliday, who was 0-for-3, had another rough night. Not only is Holliday now 3-for-27 (.111) with men in scoring position, he also was hit on the top of the foot by a pitch from Atlanta LHP Billy Wagner in the eighth. "That can be a throbber tonight," manager Tony La Russa said. But Holliday, in bouncing a potential double-play ball to 3B Chipper Jones in the sixth, hustled down the line and beat Jones' throw to first to keep the inning alive after Jones had gone to the bag for a forceout.


--RHP Ryan Franklin, who was 7-for-7 in save chances, didn't even warm up after gaining saves in each of the previous two games. "Three days in a row ... This would not have been a good time to pitch him," manager Tony La Russa said. Franklin should be available Wednesday.


--Manager Tony La Russa, in an attempt to get his offense and, in particular, slumping SS Brendan Ryan (.158) going, batted Ryan ninth and RHP Chris Carpenter eighth Tuesday night. The last time La Russa had hit the pitcher eighth was July 21, 2009, three days before LF Matt Holliday was acquired to be the club's cleanup man. Ryan, who had been 0-for-12 with seven strikeouts, started a four-run rally with a leadoff single in the sixth inning.


La Russa's reasoning for hitting a position player ninth?


"That guy has a better chance to get on base than the pitcher," he said. "I think it's pretty clear-cut. This was a good example. A leadoff guy gets on base and it sets up what ended up happening. But potential is why you do that. It doesn't have to happen."


--C Jason LaRue (strained right hamstring) was activated from the 15-day disabled list and C Byran Anderson, who had a game-tying double as a pinch hitter Monday, was returned to Class AAA Memphis.


--INF Aaron Miles, released by Cincinnati, was signed to a minor league contract. Miles was a key reserve on St. Louis' 2006 World Series championship team.


BY THE NUMBERS: 15 -- Home run differential (24-9) for the Cardinals after the first three weeks of the season.


QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was unbelievable. You're talking to a lot of people who seem perfectly normal but who obviously have done some really bad things." -- 2B Skip Schumaker, after visiting San Quentin State Prison near San Francisco.






--C Jason LaRue (strained right hamstring) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 12. He was activated April 27.


--INF Felipe Lopez (strained right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list April 26.

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