Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/26/10

In Pittsburgh, the Cardinals lost another series to an opponent with a losing record.

INSIDE PITCH

The Cardinals' 10-game swing through the National League's second division (Pittsburgh, Washington, Houston) got off on a bad foot. After the Cardinals had rolled over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first game of a three-game series, they were outpitched and outplayed in the last two games.

The Cardinals are the same 3 1/2 games behind the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central standings that they were four days ago.

Pittsburgh rookie Daniel McCutchen blanked the Cardinals on three hits for six innings as the Pirates won the series clincher 5-2.

There are seven more games on this trip, and the Cardinals surely must win five of them.

"We have a very consistent philosophy of winning the series," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. "We win the first game of the series and we lost the next two.

"I don't care if it's home, start of road trip, middle of road trip ... it doesn't make any difference. It's a disappointing series. You win the first game of the series, you're in charge. We didn't convert any of the next two. And that's tough to take because that's not how we set out to play this series. You can't lose the series and win the first game. But we did."

McCutchen had entered the game with a 1-5 record and 6.65 earned run average. Cardinals infielder Felipe Lopez said he had "no idea" why McCutchen was so effective Wednesday.

"I don't want to talk bad about anybody, but I think we could have got him," said Lopez.

Albert Pujols, hitting .388 at PNC Park and sitting on 399 home runs for his career, went 0-for-4 although he finished the series 6-for-14.

He commended McCutchen for keeping the ball down and the Cardinals off balance. He thought the Cardinals could have done more, but he said, "We never put anything together."

But Pujols said no one should disrespect the Pirates.

"It's the big leagues," he said. "It's a round baseball. They use the same bat. They made plays when they needed to. They got some big hits when they needed to and that's it. You can't disrespect the other ballclub because of the year (43-84) that they're having.

"Should we have beat them? Should we have won the series? Yes. But we didn't play to win the series and they did."

PIRATES 5, CARDINALS 2: RHP Jake Westbrook worked at least six innings for the fifth straight time as a Cardinal. But, with the bases loaded in the third inning, he made a down-and-away sinker a little too good for Pittsburgh 2B Neil Walker, who walloped a three-run triple.

NOTES AND QUOTES

C Yadier Molina sat out after starting 26 straight games. The Cardinals are 65-43 when Molina starts and 3-13 when he doesn't, although neither Bryan Anderson (0-2) nor Jason LaRue (3-11) has had occasion to catch RHP Chris Carpenter, RHP Adam Wainwright or LHP Jaime Garcia.

In RHP Jake Westbrook's first four starts for the Cardinals, he either had given up three earned runs or two in every game. "I've been consistent over my starts," he said. "But I've been consistently mediocre. If I continue to be happy with that quality start (three earned runs in six innings), that's a four-and-a-half ERA. I feel like I'm better than that."

The Cardinals ran in place in this series, losing two of three games as NL Central Division leader Cincinnati also lost two of three to the Giants. "I can't speak for our whole ballclub, but I can speak for myself. We need to take care of business ourselves," 1B Albert Pujols said. "We can't worry about what's going on. We can't control what they do. We can control what we do. Sometimes."

Out of the lineup for an eighth straight game with a strained right calf, CF Colby Rasmus said he was anticipating being able to play in Washington, where the Cardinals will play the next four days. Rasmus said he was wary of pushing himself, having watched former Cardinals OF Ryan Ludwick try to come back too soon from a similar injury only to miss a month from June 26 to July 24. "Not that I don't want to be out there," said Rasmus, "That's not even close. I want to be in there instead of it coming back again and being out for three weeks. If I go out and play one game and then I'm out three weeks, that's not going to help us at all."

RHP Jason Motte, working in his first rehabilitation assignment at Class AAA Memphis on Wednesday night threw 23 pitches. The reliever gave up two hits and one run while walking one and fanning one in 2/3 inning. Motte, who is recovering from a right shoulder sprain, is scheduled to pitch again Friday for Memphis and then perhaps come off the 15-day disabled list after that.

LHP Dennys Reyes, on the DL with a sore left elbow, will throw a bullpen session in Washington on Thursday night, then is slated for another one this weekend. The reliever could be activated next Wednesday.

By the Numbers:

47 - Innings the Cardinals went without having a lead before they finally grabbed the lead on Saturday night.

 

Quote to Note:

 

"I'm not a .220 hitter."

 

- New Cardinals 3B Pedro Feliz.

 

ROSTER REPORT

 

Medical Watch:

CF Colby Rasmus (leg cramp) left the Aug. 15 game. He pinch-hit Aug. 17 and 18, but he didn't play Aug. 20-25. He said he expects to play during the team's series at Washington on Aug. 26-29.

LHP Dennys Reyes (left elbow strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 16. He'll throw a bullpen session Aug. 26. He might be able to return as soon as he is eligible.

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 no pain.

RHP Jason Motte (AC sprain in right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 3. He threw off the bullpen mound Aug. 17 and Aug. 21 and began a rehab assignment Aug. 25 at Class AAA Memphis.

C Jason LaRue (concussion) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 13. He was moved to the 60-day DL on Aug. 19, ending his season.

RHP Adam Ottavino (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 4, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 17. He won't need surgery, but he is out for the season.

3B David Freese (right ankle surgery) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 28, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 15. He was originally out due to a bone bruise on his right ankle, and then he 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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