Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/03/10

The Cardinals bullpen wasted a solid debut by Jake Westbrook in a tough loss to Houston Monday night at Busch Stadium.



Right-hander Jake Westbrook was impressive enough in his Cardinals debut, holding Houston to four hits and two runs in six innings while striking out seven. But a misfiring Cardinals defense and one of the worst performances by their bullpen this season allowed the Astros to score seven runs in the last two innings.

Westbrook survived two comebackers that glanced off his body and allowed three of his four hits in the fourth inning, when Houston scored its only two runs off him. "He had good stuff, moved the ball around, fielded his position. Very impressive. He competed like his reputation said he would," said manager Tony La Russa.

But La Russa said Westbrook "was starting to lose his sharpness" in the sixth and, after 100 pitches, Westbrook was replaced. "He had had enough," said La Russa.

La Russa declared key setup man Kyle McClellan unavailable because he had warmed up twice on Sunday besides pitching on Saturday, saying it would have been "a foolish push" to use McClellan. "If we lose him, our chances go down considerably," said La Russa. "We had a shot to win without him."

So right-hander Jason Motte got the first call in the seventh. The energized Motte got a double play to end the seventh but walked the first two men he faced when he came out again for the eighth. "The cardinal sin," said La Russa, who meant no pun.

With right-hander Mitchell Boggs also declared unavailable because he had pitched the two previous days, right-hander Mike MacDougal was the next reliever summoned. MacDougal took the loss, but La Russa thought he was the best of the lot.

There was a groundball single by Carlos Lee just out of the reach of second baseman Skip Schumaker and a hard-hit flyball to right on which Randy Winn spun one way and then the other. That became a run-scoring double. There was a fielder's choice grounder that scored another run. But MacDougal ended the inning by getting a double play, and the Cardinals still were down only one run.

However, left-hander Trever Miller and right-hander Blake Hawksworth then contributed to a four-run demolition in the ninth.

"It just got away," said La Russa. "It was just an ugly eighth and ninth."

ASTROS 9, CARDINALS 4: The Cardinals lost for the fifth straight time to Houston at Busch Stadium this season. A sloppy Astros defense helped the Cardinals to two of their four runs, and Albert Pujols provided one of the others with his 26th homer and third in three games. The Cardinals would have been a season-high 14 games over .500 if they had held on to a two-run lead with two innings to play.

They are 35-12 against the rest of their opponents at home but just 2-5 against Houston.


The news wasn't good on the farm. 3B David Freese, who has been out since late June with a right ankle injury—and then a cracked left big toe—suffered a strained lower right leg while running as he played for Class AA Springfield and will return to St. Louis on Tuesday to be re-examined. Freese was playing his first game on a medical rehabilitation option.

The Cardinals signed LHP Nate Robertson, 6-8 before being released by Florida, for their Class AAA team at Memphis. Robertson, who faced the Cardinals in the 2006 World Series, had been impressive against the Cardinals in a late spring training start and again when he faced them in St. Louis in May.

RF Jon Jay looked good in forcing Astros CF Michael Bourn into a bad throw in the second as the Cardinals stole an early run. But Jay then made an unwise decision to try to go to third as 1B Albert Pujols grounded out for the first out of the inning. Jay was the second out, and a big inning became one run. "That was a big miss," said manager Tony La Russa.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the night before he was traded to San Diego, RF Ryan Ludwick had met with La Russa in the latter's office and strongly voiced frustration over not playing as much as he thought he would after coming off the disabled list, where he had spent a month with a left calf injury. At one point during the meeting Ludwick told La Russa he would welcome playing for a manager who saw him as an everyday player, according to a club source. La Russa had outlined a program whereby he would play Ludwick two games out of every three in a series before he thought Ludwick was back to form.

The game Ludwick sat out Friday was the first of the series although, ironically, Ludwick scored the only run of the game after pinch-hitting and getting a double to lead off the 10th inning. La Russa, explaining why he liked to sit Ludwick occasionally, said, "Once in awhile he needs a break so he can regroup. Otherwise, he's going to run himself into the ground faster than other guys will."

Monday's loss left the Cardinals 48-3 when leading after seven innings. It was their first loss at home when leading after seven.

By the Numbers:

24 - A number that won't be worn again by a Cardinal. It was retired Saturday in honor of Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog.

Quote to Note:

"The fact is, if we didn't change the current dynamics of this club right now, I couldn't envision us winning."

- GM John Mozeliak, on moving RF Ryan Ludwick in a three-team deal which brought RHP Jake Westbrook to St. Louis.




Medical Watch:

SS Tyler Greene (bruised right hand) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 1. Greene was struck by a pitch July 17, and the injury was still bothering him.

RF Nick Stavinoha (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 12. He was activated July 31.

RHP Adam Ottavino (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 4. He won't need surgery, but he is probably out for the year.

3B David Freese (bone bruise on right ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 28. He also broke his left big toe in mid-July and suffered a strained lower right leg on Aug. 2.

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. Lohse began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Memphis on July 26, and he could return to the Cardinals in August.

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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