MLB Insiders: St. Louis Cardinals

The Pirstes open a three-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night at PNC Park. Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf will start for the Bucs. The Cardinals counter with right-hander Kyle Lohse.

The St. Louis Cardinals appear to be heading in the right direction after stumbling last week.

Now they need to get Kyle Lohse on track.

Lohse hopes his second start off the disabled list goes better than his first as he takes the ball in Monday night's series opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

After being sidelined since May 22 because of a right forearm strain, Lohse was tagged for seven runs and six hits in three-plus innings in last Sunday's 9-7 loss to the Cubs. If there was one positive to take from the outing it was the right-hander didn't have any arm pain.

Because of scheduled off days for the Cardinals, manager Tony La Russa gave Lohse three extra days' rest.

La Russa hopes Lohse can get things turned around against a Pittsburgh team he is 4-0 with a 2.14 ERA in seven games against.

The Cardinals are 5-1 against the Pirates this year, outscoring them 36-9 in the victories. They've also won eight of 10 meetings in Pittsburgh.

Ross Ohlendorf (1-10, 3.90 ERA) gets the start for the Pirates.

Ohlendorf hasn't pitched as bad as his win-loss record indicates and continues to encounter bad luck. The right-hander hasn't received more than three runs of support in any of his 20 starts, and he's won only once despite having a 2.34 ERA over his last 10 outings.

Against Florida on Wednesday, Ohlendorf gave up three runs and four hits in a season-high eight innings of a 3-2 loss.

Ohlendorf pitched well in four starts against the Cardinals last season, recording a 2.77 ERA, but a lack of run support left him with a 1-2 record.

For those who might have wondered if left-handed rookie Jaime Garcia was wearing down in his first season as a big-league starter, look no further than Sunday's game against San Francisco.

Garcia, who never had pitched past seven innings as a big leaguer, stymied the Giants on three hits, throwing just 89 pitches in his first shutout.

"I think this is the greatest day of my baseball career," Garcia said.

The 89 pitches, 65 for strikes, were the lowest number for a complete game by a Cardinals pitcher since right-hander Bob Tewksbury required just 86 in 1992. Garcia became the first left-handed rookie to pitch a shutout for the Cardinals since Bud Smith had a no-hitter in 2001 for one of his seven big-league victories.

In four of Garcia's last seven starts, he had failed to negotiate six innings, but he was totally in charge Sunday, walking no one. He faced just one hitter over the minimum as the Cardinals turned two double plays.

"He was fun to be behind," said shortstop Brendan Ryan.

CARDINALS 9, GIANTS 0: LHP Jaime Garcia threw a shutout, but he wasn't the only rookie to excel for the Cardinals on Sunday. CF Jon Jay had three hits, stole a base, scored a run and drove in a run. And struggling RF Allen Craig knocked in three runs with a two-run homer and a single.

NOTES, QUOTES

--3B Pedro Feliz is making a good first impression. He has been flawless in the field and has had two hits in each of his first three games. "You don't play regularly on a championship team like Philadelphia (2008-09) unless you can do everything," said manager Tony La Russa.

--1B Albert Pujols, two homers shy of 400 for his career and headed for his favorite road stadium, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, has hit safely in eight straight games. He is 12-for-30 (.400) in that span.

--CF Colby Rasmus, who has a mild calf strain that has cost him a week of starts, is expected to be able to play at some point in the three-game set starting Monday at Pittsburgh.

--The Cardinals' 10-game trip to Pittsburgh, Washington and Houston will be their longest of the season. They have won a combined seven of eight games from Pittsburgh and Washington, but they are only 5-7 against Houston, although they are 2-1 at Minute Maid Park. The Cardinals will make another visit to Pittsburgh next month.

--RHP Kyle Lohse (1-5) will make his second start Monday night since coming off the disabled list. Lohse, who had forearm surgery, lasted just three innings in his first start, a 9-7 loss Aug. 15 to Chicago.

--Since manager Tony La Russa stopped batting the pitcher eighth on Saturday, the Cardinals scored 14 runs in two games. The pitching got better, too. The Cardinals allowed just one run in the two games.

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:

--LHP Dennys Reyes (left elbow strain) didn't pitch Aug. 16-22.

--CF Colby Rasmus (leg cramp) left the Aug. 15 game. He pinch-hit Aug. 17 and 18, but he didn't play Aug. 20-22.

--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 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 had hoped to return as soon as he's eligible Aug. 18, but that didn't happen. He threw off the bullpen mound Aug. 17 and Aug. 21.

--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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