Cardinals Major League Notebook: 05/29/10

In their first meeting of 2010, the Cardinals finished off Randy Wells and the Cubs in the first inning Friday at Wrigley Field.



In a span of 16 pitches, it basically was over.

The Cardinals put together four singles and two doubles in the first -- and only 16 pitches thrown by Cubs right-hander Randy Wells on Friday -- and they showed no signs that they had arrived at their team hotel at 3 a.m. after flying all night from San Diego. The Padres had done the Cardinals no favors by scheduling a late afternoon game on getaway day, with a 1:20 p.m. game scheduled in Chicago the next day.

"Looks like the lack of rest was good," said manager Tony La Russa, "because they were still fresh from playing a few hours ago."

Ryan Ludwick, who doubled in the five-run first and tacked on a two-run homer in the ninth -- his fifth homer in his last seven games at Wrigley Field -- said, "It was an incredible first inning."

Right-hander Chris Carpenter, 7-2 in Wrigley Field in his career, was the beneficiary of the big early lead. Carpenter worked an efficient 6 2/3 innings and was touched only for a pinch homer by Tyler Colvin in the fifth.

Carpenter struggled a bit in the first, but the big play came when Carpenter caught Derrek Lee looking at a nasty pitch for strike three and catcher Yadier Molina, who has thrown out half the runners who have tried to steal against him, easily pegged out Kosuke Fukudome at third.

"When (Carpenter) has great stuff, he dominates," said Ludwick. "Even when he doesn't have his great stuff, he dominates."

CARDINALS 7, CUBS 1: The Cardinals, after totaling one run in 22 innings in the first two games of this six-game trip, have scored 15 runs in their last 18 innings. Four players -- 3B Felipe Lopez, RF Ryan Ludwick, LF Matt Holliday and CF Colby Rasmus -- had two hits apiece.


RHP Brad Penny, on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle in his upper back, figures to return by "the first half of June" at the earliest, manager Tony La Russa said. La Russa's conservative estimate was based on the fact that Penny, injured a week ago, hadn't been cleared to throw yet. But all indications are that Penny has been recovering well. "Feeling better every day," said La Russa.

1B Albert Pujols, after not knocking in a run in 11 games, has five RBI in the last two, including a two-run single in the first inning Friday. The Cubs could have walked Pujols with a base open and runners at second and third but chose not to and were burned as Pujols grounded a two-run single up the middle. Pujols' hit was his first in seven at-bats with a runner and third and fewer than two outs. In the last two games, both LF Matt Holliday (on Thursday) and CF Colby Rasmus (Friday) also delivered their first hits of the season with a runner third and fewer than two outs.

Friday's game was the first between the Cardinals and Cubs this season. With 14 meetings remaining, the Cardinals will make two other weekend visits to Wrigley Field in July and September while the Cubs have only two trips to St. Louis and none until August.

LHP Denny Reyes has been scored on only once—a homer by Atlanta's Jason Heyward on April 29—in 25 outings. Reyes, working for the fifth game in a row, retired the only hitter he faced in the seventh inning and has permitted only one hit since May 1. Opponents are hitting .084 against him.

RHP Jason Motte fanned both LF Alfonso Soriano and CF Marlon Byrd with 97 mile an hour fastballs to end the eighth when the Cubs put two runners on against reliever Kyle McClellan, who was lifted after manager Tony La Russa suspected McClellan still was bothered by hitting Cubs 2B Ryan Theriot in the rib cage with a pitch.

SS Brendan Ryan, after contributing four hits, including a home run, the day before, was rewarded with another start. He was hitless in four at-bats but he made two outstanding plays in the field, including starting an inning-ending double play in the third.

RHP Chris Carpenter has a remarkable 74-25 record in his first 99 decisions with the Cardinals. "Those are well-deserved numbers," said manager Tony La Russa. Carpenter's potential 100th decision could come Wednesday at home against Cincinnati.

3B David Freese, after playing every inning of 34 games since April 19, was given a rest. Felipe Lopez played third base and had two hits but also committed a throwing error.

RHP Adam Ottavino, just recalled from Class AAA Memphis, is scheduled to make his major league debut as the Cardinals' starter for Saturday's game. The Cardinals have not yet announced who will be taken off the roster to make room for Ottavino.

   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 had 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 27.


   RHP Brad Penny (strained upper back) went on the 15-day disabled list May 22. He might resume throwing in late May but may be out until mid June.

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