Cardinals Major League Notebook: 07/19/10

The Cardinals came back to sweep the visiting Dodgers with a 5-4 win Sunday at Busch Stadium and recaptured first place in the NL Central.



Not exactly known as the "Cardiac Cards," the St. Louis baseball team had been only 2-36 when trailing after eight innings and 3-33 when trailing after seven innings this year. But three runs in the eighth and two in the ninth to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers belied both of those statistics Sunday.

The Cardinals, with the win, their fifth in a row overall, now strangely have achieved two four-game sweeps (Atlanta, Los Angeles) while failing on eight occasions to sweep a three-game series.

On Sunday, manager Tony La Russa took a chance by resting first baseman Albert Pujols, catcher Yadier Molina and center fielder Colby Rasmus (all entered the game as late-inning hitters) and played much of his bench. The bench, which now includes shortstop Brendan Ryan, was extremely productive.

Rookie Allen Craig, replacing Pujols at first base, doubled in two runs in the eighth and tied the game with a single in the ninth. Veteran outfielder Randy Winn singled home a run with two outs in the eighth. Ryan, down under .190, had a hit, two walks and a key sacrifice. And rookie Jon Jay, who has been playing for injured right fielder Ryan Ludwick, drew three straight walks late in the game and scored after two of them.

"It was a heck of a effort -- and it got better and better," La Russa said.

Craig, who started the season with the big league club but was sent back to the minors after going 1-for-18, has had five runs batted in for the three games he has been back.

"Allen did here what he's been doing in the minor leagues," said La Russa. He's a tough RBI machine."

Craig had 65 RBIs in 67 games at Class AAA Memphis.

Somewhat loss in the shuffle was veteran right-hander Jeff Suppan's strongest showing in the six starts he has made for the club. Suppan went six innings, giving up just one run and throwing just 79 pitches.

"He was very effective," said La Russa. "Hopefully, he'll keep moving forward but he pitched very well."

CARDINALS 5, DODGERS 4: The Cardinals moved into first place for the first time since June 29 by rallying for five runs in the final two innings. They also got to 10 games over .500 (51-41) for the third time this season. They have not made it to 11 over.


LF Matt Holliday's long single to right off Dodgers RH reliever Jonathan Broxton in the ninth, broke a 4-4 tie. It also gave the Cardinals their fifth straight win. "Broxton's really tough on Matt," said manager Tony La Russa. "That's probably the best at-bat he's had in our uniform." Holliday was 3-for-16 against Broxton before Sunday.

CF Colby Rasmus, impatiently swinging at almost anything, has fanned five times in his last six at-bats and might sit Monday night against Philadelphia with impressive rookie Jon Jay playing CF and veteran Randy Winn in RF.

1B Albert Pujols, who manager Tony La Russa said had several "bruises," sat out a start (he did pinch-hit) for the second time this season. Both have been in the final game of four-game series the Cardinals swept (Atlanta, Los Angeles).

RHP Jeff Suppan likely held his place in the rotation with an excellent six-inning, one-run effort Sunday. Suppan, still 0-5, was working more quickly Sunday as he had command of all his pitches and was aggressive with his fastball. "I would much rather have quick outs than long outs," said Suppan.

The Cardinals' four-game sweep evened the regular-season career series between them and the Dodgers at 998-998. Counting postseason, the Cardinals are ahead, 1005-1004.

By the Numbers:

15-3 - Cardinals' regular-season record at new Busch Stadium against the Dodgers since the park opened in 2006. That doesn't count Los Angeles' division series-clinching game at Busch last October.

Quote to Note:

"When he shut it down, it wasn't like he had been pushed to air it out. That makes you believe it's a very uncertain situation."


- Manager Tony La Russa , on still injured RHP Brad Penny, who is showing no improvement from upper back and shoulder ailments.




Medical Watch:

RF Nick Stavinoha (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 12.

RF Ryan Ludwick (strained left calf) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 26. He might not return until the last week of July.

RHP Adam Ottavino (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 4. He will undergo season-ending surgery.

3B David Freese (bone bruise on right ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 28. He is not expected to return before 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.

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 because of tightness in his triceps area. He underwent an MRI on July 7, which found nothing that hadn't been diagnosed before. He is out indefinitely.

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