Cardinals Major League Notebook: 07/12/10

The Cardinals finished their pre-break schedule with a win and sit just one game out of first place in the National League Central.



A trip that started abysmally with three losses, including two walk-off defeats in Colorado, ended in a positive way for the Cardinals in Houston. Their 4-2 win Sunday left them just one game behind a suddenly sagging Cincinnati team at the All-Star break.

Left fielder Matt Holliday, who finished the first half with 10 homers in his last 22 games after having only six before June 18, drilled a three-run homer in the fourth inning.

Right-handed reliever Ryan Franklin earned his first save since June 26. It was his 16th of the season.

But the most significant happening of the day may have been right-hander Blake Hawksworth turning in his fourth straight strong start since being pulled from the bullpen about three weeks ago. Hawksworth couldn't find his command early, giving up two runs and four hits in the first inning, but he allowed just three more hits before being removed in the sixth.

Through the four starts, Hawksworth (3-5) has given up only nine earned runs in 21 1/3 innings. He surely has moved ahead of veteran right-hander Jeff Suppan (0-5 overall, 0-3 with the Cardinals) if and when either right-hander Brad Penny or right-hander Kyle Lohse comes off the disabled list.

CARDINALS 4, ASTROS 2: Right-hander Ryan Franklin got back on the horse for the first time since being bucked off it Tuesday when he gave up six runs, including two three-run homers, in a hard-to-believe 12-9 loss at Colorado. Franklin, gaining his 16th save in securing Blake Hawksworth's third win, retired Houston in the ninth inning, allowing just a two-out single. Pinch-hitter Colby Rasmus delivered a run-scoring single in the eighth to provide insurance after LF Matt Holliday had accounted for the other three runs with a home run in the fourth.


1B Albert Pujols, a nine-time All-Star, arranged for a private plane to take him and the four other Cardinals All-Stars to Anaheim, Calif., for the All-Star Game. "Very nice," said RHP Adam Wainwright, a first-time All-Star. "I mean … very nice."

Manager Tony La Russa, long a fan of former Houston 1B Jeff Bagwell, had some mixed emotions when Bagwell was named the Astros' hitting coach Sunday. "I don't like having to root against Jeff Bagwell," said La Russa.

C Yadier Molina's fourth-inning double Sunday was his first double since June 9 and only his second extra-base hit since then.

RHP Adam Wainwright or RHP Chris Carpenter will likely start Thursday after the All-Star break if they don't pitch during the All-Star Game. Manager Tony La Russa said he would wait until after the All-Star Game to establish his rotation for the four-game series with Los Angeles beginning Thursday at Busch Stadium. LHP Jaime Garcia then would pitch Friday. If both Carpenter and Wainwright are used Tuesday, then Garcia will open the series.

3B David Freese, who has been on the 15-day disabled list with a right ankle injury, now isn't expected back until closer to the end of the month.

RF Ryan Ludwick (strained right calf) should be ready sometime in the first few days after the All-Star break.

OF Jon Jay beat out a bunt single in the fourth to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. Three of those games came before he was returned to Class AAA Memphis on June 5. In the other eight, since he was recalled, Jay was 13-for-26. He is almost sure to find some playing time even when RF Ryan Ludwick returns.

By the Numbers:

7-for-72 - Hits and at-bats for slumping All-Star C Yadier Molina as the first half ended.

Quote to Note:

"The key is to have a good atmosphere in the clubhouse where guys care about each other and trust each other and go about their business. I think we have that."

- Manager Tony La Russa, on the club's chemistry.




Medical Watch:

CF Colby Rasmus (sore right hamstring) left the July 9 game and didn't play July 10. He did not start July 11, although he did deliver a pinch-hit RBI single. He is day-to-day.

RHP Adam Ottavino (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 4.

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 not return to the Cardinals until late July.

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 underwent an MRI on July 7, which found nothing that hadn't been diagnosed before. He probably won't return to the Cardinals until August.

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