Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/31/10

The Cardinals' Jake Westbrook pitched well, but was outdueled by J.A. Happ as St. Louis lost again on a disastrous 2-6 road trip.



The offense struggled Monday night, especially glaring because former Cardinals No. 1 draft pick Brett Wallace had three hits for Houston. That was one hit more than the Cardinals got off J.A. Happ, who had been 0-2 against them in his career, including giving up seven runs in one inning against them earlier this month.

But there was some good news for the Cardinals.

Jake Westbrook easily pitched his best game since joining the club. Benefiting from four double plays, Westbrook, who has received scant offensive support, allowed just one run through six innings before surrendering two in the seventh. He is 1-3 despite pitching at least six innings in every start, with five of them "quality" starts.

"A lot of that is me not being as good as I can be," said Westbrook, who criticized himself for allowing the runs in the seventh, pushing the Cardinals three runs back.

But the fact is, the Cardinals are averaging only 2.6 runs per Westbrook start.

The Cardinals' defense, for the most part, played well. Second baseman Skip Schumaker, shortstop Brendan Ryan and third baseman Pedro Feliz all made outstanding plays as Westbrook got 14 of his 21 outs on groundballs.

And center fielder Colby Rasmus, making his first start since Aug. 15, when he suffered a right calf strain, hit two line drives but got nothing out of it. One of the liners turned into a double play to end the eighth inning.

The only Cardinals hits were singles -- by Randy Winn in the first and Yadier Molina in the eighth. Just one runner, Rasmus, reached second base, with two out in the third inning.

On a 10-game trip to Pittsburgh, Washington and Houston -- all teams in the second division -- the Cardinals are assured of a losing journey. They are 2-6 with two games to go.

"We're in a rut," said manager Tony La Russa. "But you've got to give credit to their pitcher. He just carved us up."

The Cardinals are 21-22 against the rest of the National League Central other than the division-leading Cincinnati Reds, against whom they are 10-5. They are only 28-37 on the road and a season-high six games behind Cincinnati in the Central Division race.

"It's just very frustrating," said Ryan.

ASTROS 3, CARDINALS 0: The Cardinals often have had a tendency to strand a lot of runners this season, but that wasn't an issue Monday night. They left just one and had only three runners overall as they were blanked for the 11th time this season.


The Cardinals, looking for anything to snap their recent skid, indulged in a bit of solidarity Monday afternoon before their game at Houston. With the exception of RHP Jake Westbrook, who was the starting pitcher, the Cardinals who didn't already have their heads shaved got them shaved. Manager Tony La Russa declined, for the moment. "I need some kind of incentive," La Russa said. "The incentive is to get in first place by five games up."

RHP Jason Motte, who had been on the disabled list with a sprained right shoulder, was activated. The Cardinals will carry 13 pitchers for the last couple of days of the month.

OF Allen Craig was optioned to Class AAA Memphis. The team needed to make room for RHP Jason Motte, who was activated off the disabled list.

LF Matt Holliday's hitting streak was snapped at 11 games. His best shot was a flyball to deep center in spacious Minute Maid Park in the fourth inning. Holliday went only 14-for-47 (.298) during the streak.

LHP Dennys Reyes, who has had a strained elbow, threw a bullpen session without incident. He is likely to be activated Wednesday. Reyes has been on the disabled list since Aug. 16, and if he's activated, he will have returned in the minimum time.

The Cardinals, who already are 2-6 in the midst of a 10-game trip, are in a stretch of 17 games out of 20 on the road. Still ahead of them in this run are four games in Atlanta, where the Braves are 47-18.

By the Numbers:

1.336 - 1B Albert Pujols' OPS for August, with three games remaining.


Quote to Note:

"If it happens, it happens. But I don't want to stand here thinking about it."

- Albert Pujols, on his chances for the Triple Crown.




Medical Watch:

C Yadier Molina (sore right knee) did not play Aug. 27-28. He returned to the lineup Aug. 29.

CF Colby Rasmus (sore right calf) left the Aug. 15 game. He pinch-hit Aug. 17 and 18, but he didn't play Aug. 20-25. He pinch-hit again Aug. 26, but he then was out of the lineup until finally returning Aug. 30.

RHP Jason Motte (AC sprain in right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 3. He began a rehab assignment Aug. 25 with Class AAA Memphis, and he was activated Aug. 30.

LHP Dennys Reyes (left elbow strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 16. 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 he will be activated to start for the Cardinals on Sept. 1.

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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