Manager Tony La Russa would never put it this way but, basically, the Cardinals sacrificed Monday night's game against the Dodgers to rest a depleted relief corps and some ailing regulars.
With veterans Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse sidelined long term because of back and forearm issues, respectively, the Cardinals were down to rookie P.J. Walters and second-year man Blake Hawksworth. La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan weren't that confident in Walters making his third start of the season against the Dodgers, so they chose Hawksworth, who never had started a game in the majors.
Hawksworth, a starter in the minors, never had gone longer than three innings in the big leagues -- a scoreless three-inning relief outing against the Dodgers last year. He was tagged for six runs in four innings Monday. Walters then was summoned to finish up, giving up six runs in the final four innings and leading to speculation that he might be sent out now to bring in a fresh arm.
Hawksworth went through 67 pitches in four innings and said he was victimized by bloop hits and bad breaks although he did not excuse himself. "It's frustrating," he said. "I know I'm better than that."
Regular third baseman David Freese (sprained ankle) and center fielder Colby Rasmus (tightness in left calf) were out of the lineup, as was catcher Yadier Molina. The only offensive performers who excelled were Ryan Ludwick (two solo homers), Felipe Lopez (two hits and two RBI), and Randy Winn, who had two hits and a walk in his first start for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals now have a fresh corps of veteran relievers to back up staff aces Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, who will pitch the next two nights. "I don't like to look ahead," said La Russa. "It was just a rough night. We knew there was not much we could do (pitching-wise). But I don't like getting beat 12-4."
DODGERS 12, CARDINALS
4: The Dodgers
continued their dominance over the Cardinals in Dodger Stadium. After taking
both home games of their three-game divisional round playoff sweep over the
Cardinals last October, the Dodgers encountered a tired team that arrived in the
wee hours after an extra-inning loss on Sunday night in
NOTES AND QUOTES
RHP P.J. Walters hit in the late innings rather than being replaced by a pinch hitter. The Cardinals had only three healthy players on the bench and, with Walters finishing the game, relievers Ryan Franklin, Jason Motte and Kyle McClellan got a day off after all three had worked in back-to-back extra-inning games. "We've got our good guys coming in now," said RHP Blake Hawksworth, who was Monday's loser. "We've got a little more swagger when (Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright) are pitching."
The Cardinals had won 13 straight games played on Monday over two seasons until their dismantling Monday.
CF Colby Rasmus, who should return to the lineup Tuesday night after sitting out Monday with a strained left calf, was named National League Player of the Week after going 11-for-22 with three homers. Before that, Rasmus struck out 17 times in 27 at-bats. He got a change in the prescription for his contacts and he worked with his father-coach, Tony. "I had to be better than the way I was going, don't you think?" Rasmus said.
RHP Jeff Suppan, released
By the Numbers:
93-Number of at-bats between home runs at Busch Stadium for 1B Albert Pujols, who hit his second at home on June 5.
Quote to Note:
"He's facing a lot of lefthanders for the first time. In his career he'll be a tough out against lefthanded pitching."
-Manager Tony La Russa, on CF Colby Rasmus, who was starting to get hot against LHP after hitting under .170 against them for his career.
OF Colby Rasmus (sore left calf) suffered cramping during the June 6 game and was rested June 7. He is expected to be back June 8.
3B David Freese (sprained right ankle) left the June 5 game, and he is unlikely to start for a handful of games, though he can pinch hit.
SS Brendan Ryan (sore groin) did not play June 5. He started on June 6.
RHP Kyle Lohse (right forearm strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 23, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 5. He had surgery May 28 to alleviate muscle discomfort, and the timetable for his return was uncertain.
RHP Brad Penny (strained upper back) went on the 15-day disabled list May 22. As of June 5, it remained uncertain when he would be able to pitch off a mound.