Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/18/10

Felipe Lopez' pair of errors led to three unearned runs and another ugly Cardinals loss Tuesday night. Albert Pujols is unable to carry the offense alone as Cincinnati's division lead grows to two games.



One would have thought the Cardinals would capitalize on their second-best home record in the National League to pull away from Cincinnati after finally winning a road series in Ohio last week. This was especially so considering that the first five games of the Cardinals' eight-game homestand were to be against National League Central also-rans Chicago and Milwaukee.

But after beating the Cubs in the first game of the homestand to raise their home mark to 39-17, the Cardinals almost inexplicably have lost the next three games and have dropped two games off Cincinnati's pace.

Yes, almost inexplicably. It is somewhat explainable.

First baseman Albert Pujols isn't getting much help right now. While Pujols, who has 31 homers for the season and 397 for his career, has homered twice and doubled in the last three games, the Cardinals have had only two other extra-base hits in that time.

Matt Holliday has gone 1-for-11 in that span, and Milwaukee manager Ken Macha threw it right in front of Holliday in the eighth inning Tuesday when he ordered Pujols walked intentionally even though Pujols represented the winning run with a runner already at second.

Holliday grounded out on a 2-0 pitch, and the Cardinals would spend another day in second place in the division race.

BREWERS 3, CARDINALS 2: Jaime Garcia, about whom there has been concern, pitched one of his better games lately. He didn't give up an earned run in six innings although he did serve a two-run homer to Milwaukee's Casey McGehee in the third inning after the second of two errors by Cardinals third baseman Felipe Lopez. In four starts against the Brewers this season, Garcia has permitted only three earned runs in 25 innings for an ERA of 1.08. But his overall record dropped to 10-6.


3B Felipe Lopez, already having trouble at bat lately, has been flighty in the field, too, committing two errors on the first two balls hit to him on Tuesday before making a couple of good plays later on. The second error cost the Cardinals three unearned runs. "We lost the game because of me," Lopez said. "If I make those plays, we win."

Jeff Luhnow, the Cardinals' vice president of scouting and player development, had suggested recently that the Cardinals' draft would be a grand slam if the organization could sign all its top choices and 12th-rounder Austin Wilson, a talented California high-school outfielder who had signed collegiately with Stanford. Despite the Cardinals' efforts, Wilson did, indeed, stay with his Stanford choice. But Luhnow said the Monday signings of top draft pick Zack Cox, a third baseman from Arkansas, and second-round choice Jordan Swagerty, a right-handed reliever from Arizona State, completed a draft that Luhnow labeled a "three-run homer. "I'm thrilled," said Luhnow. "And I think every Cardinals fan should be thrilled by the caliber of talent we've brought into the organization."

C Jason LaRue, who suffered a concussion when he was kicked in the head by Cincinnati pitcher Johnny Cueto last week in Cincinnati, remained at home and away from the ballpark for a fourth straight day. "I talked to him yesterday," said manager Tony La Russa. "He's still getting a lot of symptoms. That's concerning."

RHP Jason Motte, on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder sprain, played catch and threw about 10 pitches off the bullpen mound. Motte is eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday, but that won't happen. "You've got to wait until he starts throwing some serious stuff," manager Tony La Russa said. "He's not there."

RHP Jeff Suppan, on the DL with a groin strain, is eligible to leave the disabled list. Suppan threw a three-inning simulated game and said he felt nothing untoward. "He threw the ball pretty good," said manager Tony La Russa. "It didn't look like his groin was bothering him. I was impressed."

CF Colby Rasmus, who strained his right calf scoring from second on a hit Sunday against Chicago, said he thought he would be out four days before he would able to play again. Rasmus did pinch-hit in the ninth, flying out, but he probably won't play in the field until this weekend, if then, against San Francisco.

"He wasn't playing all that great, so it's probably not a bad time to freshen him up," said Tony La Russa, although the manager didn't promise that Rasmus would immediately return to the lineup upon his healing. "Let's see how the guys play who are getting a chance to play."

INF Tyler Greene, who had been on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised right hand, was optioned to Memphis after being removed from the disabled list. On Wednesday, the Cardinals also are likely to shuffle their backup catchers. Rookie Steven Hill, who hit his first big-league homer on Sunday, is expected to be returned to the minors and left-handed-hitting Bryan Anderson is likely to be called up from Class AAA Memphis.

Anderson also is a rookie but has been at the Class AAA level for several years and would provide a more experienced backup for Yadier Molina now that Jason LaRue is on the 15-day DL.

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. He pinch-hit Aug. 17, but he probably won't play in the field until sometime during the Aug. 20-22 series against San Francisco.

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 and still had post-concussion symptoms Aug. 17.

RHP Jeff Suppan (sore right groin) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 1. He threw a three-inning simulated game Aug. 17 and said he felt nothing untoward.

RHP Jason Motte (AC sprain in right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 3. He hoped to return as soon as he's eligible Aug. 18, but that won't happen. He threw about 10 pitches off the bullpen mound Aug. 17.

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. He came off the DL Aug. 17 and was optioned to Class AAA Memphis.

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. He was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list on Aug. 17.

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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