Cardinals Major League Notebook: 05/09/11

Kyle McClellan went eight-plus innings in his longest stint as a major leaguer as the Cardinals defeated the Brewers on Sunday, winning their seventh series in the last eight.

INSIDE PITCH

 

The Cardinals have won every game right-hander Kyle McClellan has appeared in this year -- and that counts spring training, too.

McClellan, a former reliever making his sixth big-league start this season (he relieved once after a long rain delay), ran his record to 5-0 as he ventured into uncharted waters Sunday in a 3-1 win over Milwaukee.

Having completed a career-high eight innings of shutout ball, McClellan raced out to pitch the ninth but was lifted after giving up a leadoff single to the Brewers' Prince Fielder. "I don't feel like I was out of gas," McClellan said. "I believe in myself, I believe I can get a job done."

But manager Tony La Russa went to his hot rookie, right-handed reliever Eduardo Sanchez, who walked two and allowed an infield hit to Milwaukee pinch-hitter Craig Counsell, who put Sanchez through a grinding 13-pitch at-bat. La Russa felt Sanchez, already at 29 pitches, had enough and switched to right-handed reliever Fernando Salas, who needed just three pitches to fan second baseman Rickie Weeks and record his third save.

Salas, Sanchez and right-handed reliever Mitchell Boggs each have three saves since right-handed reliever Ryan Franklin -- who didn't appear during a game on the concluded seven-game home stand -- was replaced as closer after the first two weeks of the season.

The game was one of the Cardinals' best defensive efforts of the season. Second baseman Tyler Greene, who had a tough day on Saturday, made several good plays and also singled three times. Third baseman Nick Punto also played well and Gold Glove first baseman Albert Pujols made a game-turning play when he threw home in the midst of an attempted double play that had gone slightly awry to catch the potential go-ahead run.

"We're used to seeing that," said McClellan. "Albert's always looking to make the great play."

NOTES, QUOTES

Manager Tony La Russa flew to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., after the game to have his right eye looked at. La Russa, who said he was scheduled to take a physical there anyway relative to his duties as chairperson of his own Animal Rescue Foundation, has had a viral infection he hasn't been able to shake for four weeks. "It would be nice for them get a fresh look at it," said La Russa.

CF Colby Rasmus, a left-handed batter who hit .160 against left-handers in 2009 and improved to .270 last year, is at .324 this year after hitting a two-out, two-run double off Milwaukee LHP Chris Narveson on Sunday. Rasmus' 12 hits left-handed in 37 at-bats are only five hits less than his total in 2009 when he had 106 at-bats against left-handers.

1B Albert Pujols got his first extra-base hit, a double, since April 23. Pujols has just two doubles this season, to go with seven home runs.

2B Tyler Greene had three hits (all singles), matching his career high. Greene, a right-handed batter, has seen plenty of time against left-handers recently with regular 2B Skip Schumaker injured and is 6-for-16 (.375) against left-handers for the season.

Cardinals starting pitchers had their best series of the year. In three games they worked 25 innings, giving up only two runs and 12 hits.

The Cardinals' 4-0 loss Saturday was their first shutout defeat of the season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 7-0-1 - The Cardinals' series record in their last eight series.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's still the same guy. You can chalk it up to baseball. He's just been kind of human this year."

- Colby Rasmus on the hitting struggles experienced by 1B Albert Pujols, a three-time Most Valuable Player, in the first six weeks.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

INF/OF Allen Craig, (left calf) fouled a ball off his calf on May 6, and missed the May 7 and 8 games Craig told reporters, though, the injury was "nothing serious" and said he could have played May 8 if absolutely necessary.

SS Ryan Theriot (bruised left shin) left the May 6 game shortly after being hit by a pitch. He was back in the lineup May 8 and went 0-for-4.

3B David Freese (broken left hand) went on the 15-day disabled list May 2. He will have surgery May 3, and he is expected to be out until mid- to late July. Freese was scheduled to have a removable cast put on his broken left hand on May 6.

2B Skip Schumaker (strained right triceps) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 16. He hopes to return in May.

LHP Bryan Tallet (fractured right hand) went on 15-day disabled list April 13. He was throwing but not catching in early May, and the timetable for his return was uncertain.

RHP Bryan Augenstein (strained right groin) went on the 15-day disabled list April 13.

RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He will miss the entire 2011 season.

NEXT GAME

 

Mon., May 9: OPEN DATE

Tue., May 10 at CUBS: Chris Carpenter (0-2, 4.19) vs. Carlos Zambrano (4-1, 4.23) 7:05 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).

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