Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/11/10

Yadier Molina was front and center as the Cardinals took Game 2 in Cincinnati on Tuesday night.

When order was restored after a wild scrum in the bottom of the first inning Tuesday, the Cardinals were the team that maintained calm, and the Reds, many of whom haven't been in a pennant race, looked a little too excited.

The Reds outfield was particularly jumpy, committing two of the three Cincinnati errors, and the unit could have been charged with another error besides missing nearly every cutoff man. The Cardinals, notably Albert Pujols, ran the bases well (although he ran through another stop sign by third base coach Jose Oquendo) and played excellent defense (center fielder Colby Rasmus made a leaping catch), plus St. Louis got solid relief pitching.

Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, as he did the night before, stirred up the Cardinals. On Monday, Phillips had said he hated the Cardinals (those were the mild comments). After the Cardinals pounded the Reds 7-3 on Monday, Phillips tapped catcher Yadier Molina in the shin guards as he led off the first inning Tuesday, a move Phillips typically makes.

Molina took exception.

"You think I'm in a good mood about the comments you made last night?" Molina said to Phillips after kicking away Phillips' attempt to be friendly. "Then don't say, 'Hi,' to me. You are not my friend, so don't touch me. You don't have to touch me. That's stupid."

Phillips and Molina had words. The benches and bullpens emptied, and managers Tony La Russa and Dusty Baker, longtime adversaries, got into it again. They were both ejected. Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter got pushed up against the screen as the pile kept moving. However, Molina got the last laugh.

The catcher swatted a solo homer in the second inning to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead. Matt Holliday did much of the heavy lifting, getting four hits and driving in three runs and the Cardinals regained the lead in the National League Central by percentage points over the Reds.

Having already clinched the series -- and the season series at 9-5 -- the Cardinals now have their top pitcher, Adam Wainwright, ready to go for the sweep Wednesday.

La Russa, who refused to talk about the brawl until the baseball questions had been asked, said he was as impressed by his team's resolve Tuesday as he had ever been.

"I'd have to think long and hard -- and I've been around a long time -- but I haven't had too many games in the category of reaching down there and gutting it out and playing baseball. This was as good an exhibition of that as any I've ever been around," he said. "Our club did a terrific job of putting that stuff aside and playing baseball. Sometimes we're not good enough. A lot of times we are.

"These guys make a commitment that they're going to play the game right. This is not the first time we've been challenged. Sometimes you might beat us, but you're never going to scare us."

CARDINALS 8, REDS 4: Jaime Garcia, though he walked five in 5 1/3 innings, gained credit for his 10th victory as three Cardinals relievers, including rookie Fernando Salas, bailed him out. "I was really impressed with all the emotion, how he pitched," manager Tony La Russa said. The Cardinals made it to 14 games over .500 for the first time at 63-49, as Ryan Franklin, facing just one hitter, gained his 20th save in 22 opportunities.


RHP Chris Carpenter, who got pushed to the screen and then pinned there during a fight with the Reds, suffered a number of scratches on his back but said he otherwise was uninjured. Carpenter said he was kicked by Reds RHP Johnny Cueto, who did some facial damage with those same feet to Cardinals backup C Jason LaRue, a former Reds player who was trying to protect Carpenter.

"I turned around and I've got Cueto kicking me in the back with his spikes," Carpenter said. "He ends up kicking my backup catcher in the face. Totally unprofessional. Unbelievable. I don't know where that guy learned to fight." Manager Tony La Russa said LaRue had suffered a concussion when he was kicked.

Manager Tony La Russa said he didn't blame the umpires for ejecting both him and Reds manager Dusty Baker. "It actually made a lot of sense," La Russa said. "I think the umpires had to do something. It was probably a smart move."

Both skippers ostensibly were banished to the clubhouse and admitted they were frustrated. "That's the worst nine innings I could remember," La Russa said. "I probably vomited four times. It was terrible."

The Cardinals, who haven't always hit with intelligence this season, had several big two-strike hits Tuesday. SS Brendan Ryan started a three-run rally in the seventh with a two-strike single, and both LF Matt Holliday and CF Colby Rasmus had run-scoring doubles when they had two strikes in a three-run sixth.

2B Skip Schumaker, who missed three games with an irritated left wrist before hitting a game-winning grand slam Monday, came out in the sixth with some cramping issues. Aaron Miles replaced him and contributed a single.

LHP Jaime Garcia had more control issues. He walked five in 5 1/3 innings but left with a 5-2 lead. "I was just trying to keep us in the game," said Garcia, who was rescued by veteran RHP Adam Wainwright during the on-field shenanigans. "You get a little more excited after what happened," said Garcia, "but it was just a normal game for me."

RHP Kyle Lohse, who had been unhappy he had to make another rehabilitation start, gave up just three hits and a run while fanning nine in seven innings Tuesday during what likely was his last appearance for Class AAA Memphis. Lohse has been recovering from forearm surgery performed in early June. He threw 101 pitches.

By the Numbers:

1.22 - RHP Adam Wainwright's earned run average at home in 12 starts. This leads the National League.


Quote to Note:


"There's no whining in baseball."


- GM John Mozeliak, after losing 3B David Freese for the rest of the season with a severe ankle injury that required surgery.





Medical Watch:

C Jason LaRue (possible concussion) was hurt during a skirmish in the Aug. 10 game.

2B Skip Schumaker (sore left wrist) didn't play Aug. 4-8 before returning to action Aug. 9. He left the Aug. 10 game because of leg cramps.

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 had season-ending surgery Aug. 6.

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 minor league rehab assignment July 26, and he made what was likely his final rehab start Aug. 10 for Class AAA Memphis.

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. As of Aug. 5, he was playing catch but not throwing off a mound. Penny is out indefinitely.

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