Cardinals Major League Notebook: 05/14/10

The Cardinals have lost almost all of their NL Central lead as Houston swept them at home. Bud Norris bested ace Chris Carpenter on Thursday.

INSIDE PITCH

 

Bud Norris made another start against the Cardinals, and got another win. The Houston pitcher is 4-0 in four starts against the Cardinals over two seasons, having given up just one earned run in 26 innings. His ERA against the rest of the National League this year is 9.28.

"We haven't been able to figure him out," second baseman Skip Schumaker said.

Chris Carpenter's 13-game winning streak against National League Central Division teams came to an end when Houston scored four times in the third inning, three of the runs coming on a bad cutter that right fielder Hunter Pence slammed for a 429-foot homer.

"That one pitch to Pence, that cost me," Carpenter said. "Anytime you give up three-run homers, you've got a chance to lose."

Carpenter allowed just the runs in eight innings. The loss was his first of the season after four victories. He still is not throwing as hard as he used to, but he generally is succeeding with his vast arsenal of sliders, curves, cutters and changeups.

"I'm not even sure Carp's 100 percent," said Houston first baseman Lance Berkman, who had three hits off Carpenter. "I feel like he might have something going on. Ordinarily, he's 96 (mph) and now he's 92. It makes a little bit of a difference when you're hitting. You don't have to be quite as committed quite as quick.

"Having said that, I still thought he threw a great game. I thought it was a gutty game. But that's what I've always come to expect from the guy.

"When he's going good, he's as good (as), if not the best pitcher in the National League."

HOUSTON 4, CARDINALS 1: The Cardinals scored only on LF Matt Holliday's single in the seventh inning, and they have lost seven of nine. They enter a three-game series at Cincinnati with only a half-game lead over the Reds in the NL Central. They have led every day of the season so far.

NOTES AND QUOTES

The Cardinals, who scored 60 percent of their runs via the home run in the first month of the season, now have scored 32 consecutive runs without hitting a homer. They haven't homered in nine games, their longest stretch since they went 10 homerless games in May 2007.

LF Matt Holliday is hitting .310 overall. He's batting .182 (8-for-44) with men in scoring position, meaning that he's 31-for-82 (.378) in non-crunch time.

SS Brendan Ryan has one hit in his last 23 at-bats and is hitting .173 overall. He had committed five errors in three games and sat out Thursday's game, with Tyler Greene playing instead. Manager Tony La Russa said he still was a Ryan booster but cautioned that nobody gets a free pass. "I get frustrated, of course," Ryan said. "Everyone does. But there's no room for me to take that to the field."

INF Felipe Lopez, on the 15-day disabled list since April 26 because of a sore right arm, won't be activated until at least Monday when the team returns home. INF Tyler Greene likely would go back to Class AAA when Lopez is activated. Lopez might get some considerable time at short if his arm is up to it. "He keeps stepping up what he's doing," manager Tony La Russa said. "But if at some point there's a setback, we back it off a day or two."

RHP Chris Carpenter yelled at Houston LF Carlos Lee after the latter popped up in the third inning, slammed his bat to the ground and begun yelling at himself. Both benches emptied. "Things happen," said Carpenter. "I said something; he said something. He's the one that caused everybody to come out, not me. I was just telling him there's no need for it."

Manager Tony La Russa, predictably backing Carpenter, said, "Routinely now, hitters pop up a pitch they think they should do (something) with, and they start making noises, and that really is disrespectful to the pitcher. Most of the pitchers just turn around and ignore it. Carp doesn't. And I think Carp's in the right. I think respect should go both ways."

INF Aaron Miles, who signed a minor league contract with the Cardinals last week, made his debut with Class AA Springfield (Mo.) on Thursday. He went 3-for-5 with three runs and three RBI. He had been working out at the Cardinals' extended spring training camp.

By The Numbers:

21—Games in which a Cardinals starter did not give up a home run before RHP Brad Penny permitted two against Philadelphia on May 5.

Quote To Note:

"We're patiently impatient."

—Manager Tony La Russa, waiting for a resolution of INF Felipe Lopez's throwing arm difficulties.

 

ROSTER REPORT

 

Medical Watch:

INF Felipe Lopez (strained right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list April 26. He resumed baseball activities May 11, and he might rejoin the Cardinals as soon as May 17.


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