Cardinals Major League Notebook: 07/07/10

The Cardinals blew a six-run lead in the ninth inning on Tuesday, losing at Colorado.



The Cardinals got bad news before Tuesday's game. The day only grew worse when they blew a six-run, ninth-inning lead and lost 12-9 to the Rockies.

In the afternoon, right-hander Brad Penny had to cut short his simulated game after experiencing more discomfort in the area of his right shoulder. Penny, out since May 21 with a strained muscle in his upper back, will return to St. Louis on Wednesday for an MRI. It is clear he will not be rejoining the rotation after the All-Star break, as the Cardinals had anticipated.

But it got worse on a windy night at Coors Field.

Right-hander Ryan Franklin, the sixth Cardinals pitcher, paid the price for pitching only three times in the last two weeks. Manager Tony La Russa was hoping that left-hander Dennys Reyes would get his club through the ninth inning, but he called on Franklin to wrap up the game with two on and one out.

The score was still 9-4 at that point, but before the inning was over, Franklin would allow two three-run homers. He had given up just one home run previously all season. Franklin was strafed for six runs in just one-third of an inning in what was a nine-run rally for Colorado.

It was the first time the Cardinals had lost a game they led after eight innings this year. They had been 38-0 in such situations. The Cardinals were so far ahead that Franklin couldn't even qualify for a blown save.

"We played our butts off for nine innings ... and I just didn't get it done," Franklin said. "That's all you can say. I feel so bad for everybody in here. I'll stay up until 2 or 3 thinking about it. I won't worry about it tomorrow."

An agitated La Russa said, "The momentum built on their side and we couldn't stop it.

"It's not on Franklin. It's on everybody, including the manager."

La Russa then challenged the media. "The game's out there. You guys analyze it however you want to."

But then La Russa offered, "There's no way you cannot get three outs with a six-run lead. There's no way to explain it. It's just brutal."

ROCKIES 12, CARDINALS 9: The Cardinals missed out on a chance to cut their deficit in the National League Central to one game when Colorado produced a nine-run ninth inning. Earlier, the Cardinals had dodged bullet after bullet, forcing the Rockies, who had 19 hits, to strand 13 runners through seven innings.


RHP Ryan Franklin, who suffered his first loss of the season, couldn't get the ball out of the middle of the plate after he entered the game. He gave up two three-run homers in the ninth inning, and Colorado rallied for nine runs in the inning to win 12-9. Manager Tony La Russa, though Franklin has pitched little lately, didn't even plan to use his closer, but LHP Dennys Reyes, who had thrown just nine pitches in the eighth inning, retired just one of the four hitters he faced in the ninth. "It was not a save situation, and I don't really want to use Ryan," La Russa said. "But stuff starts happening. They had the top of the lineup coming up. It was very dangerous."

RHP Blake Hawksworth, pulled out of the bullpen to be a spot starter, may be in the rotation for a lot longer than people thought now that RHP Brad Penny is hurt again. Hawksworth had his third consecutive effective start, pitching out of jam after jam and managing to allow just two runs through five innings. He walked four and gave up eight hits. "The walks obviously were a problem. They killed my pitch count," said Hawksworth, who had hoped to go longer than five innings.

RHP Brad Penny, who had to cut short a throwing session before Tuesday's game, told team officials he felt tightness in his triceps area. Pitching coach Dave Duncan said he thought it was different the strained lat that originally put Penny on the 15-day disabled list. Assistant GM John Abbamondi said, "I think it's a setback of what has been a longer rehab than we thought."

GM John Mozeliak probably will have to intensify his search for a starting pitcher through the trade route but said no decisions of any sort would be made until Penny meets with team doctors on Wednesday. "I wasn't going to get too serious until (Penny) threw off the mound," manager Tony La Russa said. "Now he's throwing off the mound and I was looking to the second half where he would fit in. This is a big negative." La Russa said unless there was a "miracle," he expected Penny to be out for another extended period of time.

LF Matt Holliday, on the same day he accepted an invitation to participate in the All-Star Home Run Derby next Tuesday, hit his first homer in two weeks. The three-run smash gave the Cardinals a 9-2 lead in the sixth inning. Holliday, who competed in the derby in 2007, said he did it for his two young boys. "They said, 'Do it, do it,"' Holliday said. "They were excited."

The Cardinals, losers in their first meeting with the Rockies this year, were 1-6 against Colorado last season, with their only win a division-clinching triumph in September.

Lost in the carnage of the ninth inning Tuesday were strong games by 3B Felipe Lopez, who had a two-run homer and drove in three runs, and 2B Aaron Miles, who had two hits and scored two runs.

By the Numbers:

20,60 - 1B Albert Pujols has had at least that many home runs and that many runs batted in eight times in his career, including this year, through the first 81 games.

Quote to Note:

"It's pretty unbelievable. It makes me sick to my stomach."

- SS Brendan Ryan, on his average sinking to .198.




Medical Watch:

RF Ryan Ludwick (strained left calf) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 26. He hopes to return just after the All-Star break.

3B David Freese (bone bruise on right ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 28. He will begin a rehab assignment during the All-Star break, and he might return to the Cardinals just after the break.

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 played catch June 28 for the first time since the surgery.

RHP Brad Penny (strained upper back) went on the 15-day disabled list May 22. He threw bullpen sessions June 28 and July 1 but had to cut short a bullpen session July 6 due to tightness in his triceps area. He will undergo an MRI on July 7, and his DL stint likely will be extended significantly.

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