Cardinals Major League Notebook: 06/10/10

The Cardinals were swept by the Dodgers this week just as they were in the 2009 NLDS.



If the Cardinals are to be considered true contenders for the National League championship, they're going to have to play better against other contenders on the road. Against the likes of Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco, all of which could be playoff teams, the Cardinals are 2-8 on the road. They haven't met any of those teams at home yet.

St. Louis, presumed to have a deep, powerful offense, has scored three runs or fewer in eight of those 10 games.

On Wednesday night, the Cardinals had three prominent players out with minor injuries. They also caught a bad break in the ninth inning when Yadier Molina's potential game-tying double bounced over the right-center-field wall, and Albert Pujols, who had to stop at third, did not score. In the previous inning, Felipe Lopez had been robbed of a hit by Dodgers first baseman James Loney, who also hurt the Cardinals at the plate by amassing four hits.

But the fact remains that the Cardinals have been swept by the Dodgers the last two times the teams have met -- in the 2009 National League Division Series and the just completed three-game set. With center fielder Colby Rasmus (strained left calf), third baseman David Freese (sprained right ankle) and shortstop Brendan Ryan (bruised right thumb) beginning the game on the bench, the Cardinals needed Pujols and Matt Holliday, their Nos. 3 and 4 hitters, to do what they can do.

And they didn't. Pujols had only bloop ninth-inning single in 11 at-bats in the series, and Holliday went 1-for-10 with a single.

The Cardinals, whose losing streak is at a season-high four, hadn't been swept in a three-game series at Dodger Stadium since 1988. They are only 10-12 in one-run games this season.

DODGERS 4, CARDINALS 3: RHP Adam Wainwright, struggling with his control early on, fell behind 4-0 after three innings before he found himself and pitched scoreless ball over the next three innings. "He found a way to pull it back together," manager Tony La Russa said. It took Wainwright 113 pitches to complete six innings. He needed only 103 to throw a shutout against Milwaukee in his previous outing.



The Cardinals struck out 11 times Wednesday, 10 of them against Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw. It marked the 16th time this season they have fanned 10 or more times, compared to 18 times all of last year.

There weren't many threats by the Cardinals. Until CF Randy Winn grounded out to end the game with runners at second and third, the Cardinals had just one at-bat with a man in scoring position. RF Ryan Ludwick, who has been the club's best player offensively and defensively lately, cracked a three-run homer in the fourth inning (No. 10) and came up just short of another homer in the sixth.

RHP Brad Penny, out since May 22 with a strained muscle in his upper back, tossed from a mound for the first time since then but was not throwing on a downward plane. Penny has not been cleared yet to do real pitching from the mound as he still feels some discomfort in his back. Penny will be re-examined in St. Louis on Monday.

"Right now I guess they're waiting on me," Penny said. "I've got to tell them when the discomfort is gone. There's still something there, but it's localized. It's nothing like it was. I just know I don't want to come back too soon and set things back another six weeks. I don't think anyone wants that."

With an off day Thursday, the Cardinals won't have to go with a fifth starter this weekend at Arizona. LHP Jaime Garcia, RHP Adam Ottavino and RHP Chris Carpenter will pitch against the Diamondbacks.

3B David Freese missed a fourth consecutive start because of a sprained right ankle but showed enough progress in workouts that manager Tony La Russa speculated that Freese might be ready by Friday. Freese was announced as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning Wednesday, but he was replaced when the Dodgers made a pitching change.

SS Brendan Ryan, who is in another slide at 0-for-14, sat out Wednesday's game with a bruised right hand. However, manager Tony La Russa said Ryan was available.

RHP Jason Motte, who retired 32 hitters in a row in an 11-game span, allowed five of the next seven to reach base, including the first two in the seventh inning Wednesday. But, with the defensive help of 2B Skip Schumaker, Motte worked out of a first-and-third, no-out scrape to keep the Cardinals close.

RHP Adam Wainwright allowed a season-high-tying eight hits and a season-high five walks in six innings. "I was behind in the count a lot," said Wainwright, who lamented letting the Dodgers get into too many hitters' counts. "I wasn't missing by a lot on any of those pitches." Over his previous 23 innings, Wainwright had allowed just two runs and had struck out 28.

OF Colby Rasmus, who had sat out the previous two games due to a sore left calf, returned to action as a pinch hitter Wednesday. He struck out in the eighth inning.

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.




Medical Watch:

OF Colby Rasmus (sore left calf) suffered cramping during the June 6 game and was rested June 7-8. He appeared as a pinch hitter June 9.

3B David Freese (sprained right ankle) left the June 5 game, He hasn't started since though he has appeared as a pinch hitter. He might be ready to start June 11.

SS Brendan Ryan (bruised right hand) did not play June 9. He is day-to-day.

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. He tossed from a mound June 9 but did not throw on a downward plane. He will be re-examined June 14.

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