Cardinals Major League Notebook: 06/16/10

Jeff Suppan's return led to another St. Louis win over Seattle Tuesday night.



The last three games Jeff Suppan has started for the Cardinals have been among the biggest in his career. He didn't get credit for the win in any of them, but the Cardinals won them all, including the one in St. Louis on Tuesday night that might have jump-started the right-hander's career.

At 35, Suppan had been released by Milwaukee after going 0-2 with a 7.48 ERA this season. He had given up 20 hits and 13 earned runs over his last 9 2/3 innings of relief. But Tuesday against Seattle, Suppan worked an efficient four innings, allowing just a solo homer by Milton Bradley.

The Cardinals went ahead 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth, Suppan's last inning, on a two-run homer by Colby Rasmus and then Suppan's stunning two-base hit with two outs and Brendan Ryan's second single of the game.

Asked why he let Suppan hit, even though he was going to replace him with another pitcher in the fifth, Tony La Russa joked, "(Suppan) told me he was going to hit a double," although the manager said that, in fact, he didn't want to waste a pinch hitter.

"I thought (Suppan) did a really good job for the first appearance with us," La Russa said. "We were hoping he'd do well enough that we'd find a way to win the game and he could do something we could build on, that he could build on, and we accomplished that."

La Russa admitted he was recalling glories past, as when he watched Suppan in the 2004, 2005 and 2006 postseasons. In 2006, Suppan was the MVP of St. Louis win over the Mets in the National League Championship Series, including an effective no-decision in Game 7. He got a no-decision in Game 4 of the World Series against the Tigers. Those were Suppan's last Cardinals appearances before Tuesday.

"I couldn't help but think, seeing him back out there, how many really big games he pitched for us -- games that meant a huge difference to this franchise," La Russa said. "You couldn't help but think about that. I couldn't."

CARDINALS 4, MARINERS 2: Colby Rasmus hit homer No. 13 and Albert Pujols No. 15 as the Cardinals beat the Mariners for the second straight night and raised their interleague record at home against Seattle to 5-0 overall. Four St. Louis relievers held Seattle to three hits and one run over the final five innings.


RHP Ryan Franklin gained his 12th save in 13 opportunities, although he allowed a pinch homer to Seattle's Ryan Langerhans in the ninth inning. That was the first homer Franklin had allowed since May 10, 2009, when he gave up two homers in Cincinnati. The homerless span covered 72 games.

RHP Jeff Suppan is a .175 lifetime hitter, but his double in the fourth inning extended his interleague hitting streak to seven games. He is a .317 hitter in interleague play.

CF Colby Rasmus has jumped his average against left-handed pitching more than 100 points since his father/coach paid a visit to him in St. Louis a couple of weeks ago. He has seven first-pitch homers out of his 13 this year, and has six homers this month.

1B Albert Pujols and Seattle OF Ichiro Suzuki are both hitting .333 for their careers, the top averages for active players with more than 3,000 plate appearances. "I saw them have a conversation today," manager Tony La Russa said. "There's a genuine mutual respect between two great players. I don't think either one wants to show the other one that they're not into it."

LF Matt Holliday batted second in front of 1B Albert Pujols for the second night in a row. The two combined to reach base eight times in 10 plate appearances Monday, then three times in eight plate appearances Tuesday (Pujols' homer and a walk apiece). Manager Tony La Russa said he could see some short-term value to the configuration, which includes the pitcher hitting eighth, but he said, "The team was made up with Holliday hitting fourth, not third, not second."

RHP Kyle Lohse, who had unusual surgery to repair a forearm ailment, said he was scheduled to begin playing catch June 21. "There's not really a set schedule as to how things should be progressing," said Lohse, who has to stay on the 60-day disabled list until at least July 22. "But so far, so good. I've got my flexibility back in it, and my range of motion is coming back."

By the Numbers:

0-Number of victories for the Cardinals in games started by top pitchers Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright on a recent road trip.

Quote to Note:

"I'm a big believer that at the end of the year our numbers will be there and we'll be as a team right where we want to be."

-1B Albert Pujols on his and LF Matt Holliday's lack of productivity.




Medical Watch:

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. He planned to begin playing catch June 21.

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 might be out until the All-Star break.

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