Cardinals Major League Notebook: 05/28/10

P.J. Walters earned his first major league win in a big slump-busting game for the Cardinals Thursday.



Shortstop Brendan Ryan had a red-letter day Thursday, getting a season-high four hits, including a home run. He stole a base, laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt and made a sparkling defensive play to end the game after making an ill-advised throw a couple of innings before that. Benched for poor hitting, Ryan skied his average to .203, just the third day all season he has been above .200.

"I don't know if I'm hitting my weight yet," Ryan joked,

But the day really belonged to rookie right-hander P.J. Walters, who is less than two months removed from the tragic death of his infant daughter, Annabelle Faith Walters, who had been born 13 weeks prematurely.

Behind the "SD" insignia on the pitcher's mound at Petco Park, Walters carved his late daughter's initials, "AFW" on the mound, as an inspiration to him.

In only his second major league start, Walters worked five scoreless innings to gain his first big league win and salvage the final game of the series for the Cardinals.

"P.J. deserves all the credit we can give him," manager Tony La Russa said.

"P.J.'s been through more than maybe anybody in this league," said Skip Schumaker, who had two hits, including a triple. "I don't think anybody was pulling more for him to get a win than the 24 guys in this clubhouse. We're really happy for him."

Walters' newborn survived 51 days before she died April 2, three days before the Cardinals opened their season. After an excused absence, Walters reported to extended spring training in mid-April, then joined Class AAA Memphis. He allowed three earned runs in four starts, striking out 25 in 22 2/3 innings, before being brought up to take injured Brad Penny's place in the rotation.

"I think the situation I've gone through has helped me concentrate a lot better," said Walters, who had a high pitch count of 93 but danced out of two bases-loaded spots. "It definitely made me stronger as a person, a player, a Christian ... everything down the road.

"She never leaves my mind," he said of his daughter. "I'd like to say it's all baseball. But it's not always easy.

"This will help me get to where I want to go."

CARDINALS 8, PADRES 3: Albert Pujols, who hadn't driven in a run in 11 games, had three RBI on Thursday, including his second homer this month, a long smash off the facade of the second deck at Petco Park. Ryan Ludwick had three hits and drove in two runs.


RHP Kyle Lohse will undergo surgery Friday in Los Angeles to alleviate muscle discomfort in his pitching arm. The surgery will occur after a Southern California-based hand and wrist specialist, Dr Steven Shin, confirmed an earlier diagnosis that Lohse was suffering from exertional compartment syndrome, or a buildup of muscle pressure, in his right forearm.

"There is little or no history on this that I'm aware of," general manager John Mozeliak said Thursday. "It seems like a pretty simple surgery, but there is an unknown attached." Mozeliak said it was premature to speculate on how long Lohse might be out, although a couple of months, at least, would seem realistic.

RHP Fernando Salas was promoted from Class AAA Memphis, where he was 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA in 19 appearances. Rookie RHP Adam Ottavino also joined the Cardinals, but he was not activated yet. It is expected that Ottavino will get RHP Kyle Lohse's scheduled start Saturday in Chicago since Lohse will need surgery on his pitching arm.

RHP Blake Hawksworth, who hadn't pitched since May 19 due to right groin soreness, returned to the mound Thursday. He allowed three runs on four hits in one inning.

INF Aaron Miles has agreed to extend his minor league contract with the Cardinals after his initial 30-day deal expired. Miles remains at Class AA Springfield, and GM John Mozeliak said the arrangement was "open-ended." Miles, signed as a free agent after being released by Cincinnati this spring, was a valuable utility player for the Cardinals from 2006-08.

1B Albert Pujols hit his second homer of the month and drove in three runs after not knocking in a run in his previous 11 games, matching the longest dry spell of his career. "I'm putting a good swing on it," Pujols said. "It's the same swing I've been putting on it all year. Sooner or later they're going to fall."

The Cardinals had scored only one run in 22 innings over the first two games of the series before exploding Thursday. "This team has done it before," 2B Skip Schumaker said. "It's not like we have a bunch of rookies that hasn't scored runs or hasn't hit. I think we're capable of a game like this more times than not."

SS Brendan Ryan's four hits in four at-bats matched his total for his previous 39 at-bats. "I'm just trying to keep it simple," Ryan said.

   BY THE NUMBERS: 1,045 -- Consecutive starts, since May 2003, in which 1B Albert Pujols had hit third before manager Tony La Russa moved him to fourth at the start of a home stand May 17. Pujols returned to the No. 3 spot on May 22 after the Cardinals went 4-1.


   QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's over. We said what we said. It's over." -- 1B Albert Pujols, after a testy exchange with manager Tony La Russa when Pujols showed displeasure with a runner being thrown out trying to steal while he was at-bat May 21.




Medical Watch:


   RHP Kyle Lohse (right forearm strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 23. He will have surgery May 28 to alleviate muscle discomfort, and he is expected to be out until at least late July.


   RHP Blake Hawksworth (right groin soreness) didn't pitch May 20-26. He returned to action May 26.


   RHP Brad Penny (strained upper back) went on the 15-day disabled list May 22. He might resume throwing in late May.

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