Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/05/10

The Cardinals avoided being swept at home by the Houston Astros with a win on Wednesday night.



The Cardinals already had been swept in one three-game home series by the Astros, who seemed on their way to another one after thrashing St. Louis by a combined 27-8 in the first two games of this week's series.

But the club's veteran meal tickets would have none of another sweep. Albert Pujols singled, doubled and smacked a three-run homer Wednesday, his fourth in the last five games. And Chris Carpenter worked 7 1/3 innings to improve to 12-3 and win for the ninth time in 11 decisions at Busch Stadium.

For all those who were worried about Pujols' swing, consider that he has a six-game hitting streak in which he is 12-for-27 (.444). He dropped below his customary .300 for several days, but he's above it and heading for his 10th consecutive .300 season with 30 or more homers and 100 or more RBI. He is tied with Cincinnati's Joey Votto for the league lead in homers at 27, and his 78 RBI are three behind leader Ryan Howard, who is on the disabled list.

Pujols also hasn't walked for nine games, his longest drought since his rookie season of 2001, when he had 11 straight games without a walk. Part of that is due to Matt Holliday being productive behind Pujols, and part of it is that Pujols isn't missing the one pitch he might get in any at-bat.

"I didn't have any problem with the other four-plus months," manager Tony La Russa said. "He's having a great year. If you really want to scrutinize it, just watch the way he's pitched and see how many times they throw the ball down the middle to him. They just don't.

"As far as greatness ... he makes these things happen. It means you have to show patience. You have to have plate coverage. You have to hit a lot of different pitches in different counts. They really work him over."

The Cardinals will be in Florida this weekend after an off day, while Cincinnati, a half-game up in the National League Central, will be in Chicago for three games. The two division leaders then will play Monday through Wednesday in Cincinnati.

CARDINALS 8, HOUSTON 4: The Cardinals scored seven or more runs for the seventh time in a start by RHP Chris Carpenter. Not that they needed to. 1B Albert Pujols' three-homer put the Cardinals ahead 7-2 after two innings.


RHP Jason Motte, a key component of the Cardinals bullpen, went on the 15-day disabled list with an AC sprain of his right shoulder, although both he and manager Tony La Russa said they expected him back in two weeks. La Russa said the strikeout specialist would be missed. "He's really a valuable guy. But you can't belabor it," the manager said. RHP Fernando Salas was called up from Memphis for the fifth time.

OF Allen Craig, in his fourth tour with the Cardinals this season, may stick around longer this time. Craig started the last two games in right field and is 4-for-7 in those games.

From the beginning of the season until he was sent out April 26 for the first time, the Cardinals' minor league player of the year last year was 1-for-18 in uneven duty.

"It was not fair early," manager Tony La Russa said. "You're talking about a young guy just getting his feet wet. He'd get a toe in and then he wouldn't play for days. He came back the next time. He'd been playing Triple-A and he had a bunch of RBI. He had good timing and he looked like he did in spring training, which is that he looks like he's going to hit."

The Cardinals are seeking some third base coverage, other than Felipe Lopez, with rookie David Freese, the starter for more than half the season, out for the remainder of the year with a severe ankle injury. Aaron Miles started there Tuesday. "(Miles) is a really gutty guy, and he'll do the best he can. But you're asking him to do a lot," La Russa said.

At Class AAA Memphis, Ruben Gotay and Joe Mather have played third, but La Russa didn't sound as if he expected either would help much. "I think Mo (general manager John Mozeliak) is looking for somebody," La Russa said.

RHP Ryan Franklin allowed his first runs (two) since July 6. But, in fairness, Franklin hadn't pitched since last Friday. He wasn't working in a save situation, as he entered with a six-run lead in the ninth.

1B Albert Pujols' second-inning homer was his 40th career home run against Houston. He has 40 or more against the Chicago Cubs (44), Cincinnati (43) and Pittsburgh (42).

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:

INF Felipe Lopez (swollen knee) did not play Aug. 3. He returned to action Aug. 4.

RHP Jason Motte (AC sprain in right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 3. He hopes to return as soon as he's eligible.

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.

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. He tore a right ankle tendon Aug. 2 in his first rehab game with Class AA Springfield, and he will undergo season-ending surgery.

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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