Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/15/10

Steven Hill's first home run and a late comeback attempt Sunday still translated to a Cubs series win at Busch Stadium. Cincinnati recaptured first place.



The euphoria seems to have dissipated from the Cardinals' three-game sweep in Cincinnati after Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips had infuriated them. A five-run rally in the ninth inning Sunday still left them short of the Chicago Cubs, who won the final two games of a three-game set and knocked the Cardinals out of first place again.

"Sometimes, it's a nice story," said manager Tony La Russa. "The Cincinnati series... we win... so it's over. It's not over. It's going to be a contest until the end.

"I have no complaints (about) how we played the series," said La Russa. "We lost two out of three."

The return was not a triumphant one to the Cardinals' rotation for right-hander Kyle Lohse after he had missed nearly three months as he recovered from a forearm problem which required surgery. Lohse gave up six hits and seven runs in three-plus innings and suffered his fifth loss in six decisions.

"He did some good things," said La Russa, "and he had some problems with stuff, like our club. He did some good things and he didn't do enough good things."

But La Russa added, "We're confident in Kyle Lohse. That's why he got the ball. If we weren't confident, he would have not got the ball for this assignment."

Lohse's next start is likely to be next Sunday against San Francisco.

CUBS 9, CARDINALS 7: After spotting the Chicago Cubs an 8-2 lead, the Cardinals got the winning run to the plate in a five-run ninth inning which featured a two-run pinch single by INF Felipe Lopez, who had been nothing for 17. 1B Albert Pujols' first-inning homer gave him 30 for the 10th straight season.


Rookie C Steven Hill, recalled from Class AA Springfield, got his first major-league hit, a home run in his second at-bat. The ball just sneaked inside the right-field foul pole in the ninth inning. "I saw it going up and I said, 'Stay fair.' I didn't think it was going out," said Hill. "Then I saw it go out and I just tried not to make an idiot out of myself." Oddly, Hill came to bat later in the five-run inning and made the last out of the game on a grounder to short. "I wish I could have come through one more time," said Hill.

CF Colby Rasmus turned in the defensive play of the game with a lunging catch near the wall on Cubs RF Kosuke Fukudome to end the third inning. But Rasmus, who has struck out five times in his last six official at-bats, had to leave the game a couple of innings later. "If the game's close, it's a great play. But he had to leave because he had a cramp in his leg," said manager Tony La Russa.

RHP Blake Hawksworth, moved back to the bullpen with the addition of RHP Jake Westbrook and the return of RHP Kyle Lohse from the disabled list, reeled off three scoreless innings of relief after having a perfect inning of relief on Friday. Hawksworth still could move back into the rotation if Lohse or RHP Jeff Suppan, who has a groin injury now, struggles.

When the Cardinals fell behind so far Sunday, manager Tony La Russa pulled 1B Albert Pujols and LF Matt Holliday, among others, from the lineup. Those spots in the lineup came to bat in the ninth inning but Lopez, batting in Pujols' spot, singled in two runs and OF Randy Winn, batting in Holliday's spot, drew a walk. "There hadn't been a lot of playing time for some (of the reserves)," said La Russa. "So you factor that in. Felipe singled for two (runs) and Randy walked. So how bad did we do there? Normally, it doesn't turn out that well. But you forget that the rally started because of some guys like (Aaron) Miles and (Nick) Stavinoha and Steven Hill." All three had hits in the ninth.

OF Allen Craig made his first big-league start at third base. He didn't have a chance until the ninth inning—and then he booted a hard-hit ball for an error. "He's a very tough guy," said La Russa. "He wasn't afraid. We'll see if we have to throw him out there again."

By the Numbers:

30, 10 - When 1B Albert Pujols hit his 30th homer on Sunday, it marked the 10th straight year that Pujols had reached that figure. He has played only 10 seasons.


Quote to Note:


"I don't know how long he has to play to be one of the greatest who's ever played this game. He's certainly going to be in the conversation. He is for the first 10 years."


- Manager Tony La Russa, on star 1B Albert Pujols.




Medical Watch:

CF Colby Rasmus (leg cramp) left the Aug. 15 game and is day to day.

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 his final rehab start Aug. 10 for Class AAA Memphis. He was activated to start for the Cardinals on Aug. 15.

C Jason LaRue (mild concussion, bruised ribs) was hurt during a skirmish in the Aug. 10 game. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 13.

RHP Jeff Suppan (sore right groin) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 1.

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 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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