Cardinals Major League Notebook: 05/20/11

Cardinals Major League Notebook: 05/20/11

Kyle McClellan picked up his MLB-leading sixth win on Thursday as the Cards finished a 4-0 homestand.

INSIDE PITCH

 

The Cardinals' staff allowed only four earned runs in four games during a brief homestand. Not surprisingly, the Cardinals won all four games and regained the National League Central Division lead.

Perhaps the Cardinals aren't surprised, but the rest of baseball is having its eyes opened by right-hander Kyle McClellan, who achieved a league-high sixth victory with another brilliant outing Thursday in a 4-2 win over Houston.

McClellan, starting this season after spending his first three seasons in the bullpen, didn't walk anybody in eight innings although he threw three wild pitches.

In 31 innings by right-handers McClellan, Jake Westbrook and Kyle Lohse and left-hander Jaime Garcia at home this week, the opposition scored only five runs, four earned.

"That's kind of what we've seen for six weeks," manager Tony La Russa said. "They've been one of the bright spots on the club. Our starting pitching has been wonderful."

McClellan's victory came four days after the birth of his first child, Olivia Grace.

La Russa said, "All of a sudden, you've got a new member of the family. ... I guarantee you his days and nights have been different. Outstanding. Very impressive."

McClellan slept downstairs Wednesday night in preparation for Thursday's day game, which was delayed for 55 minutes at the start because of rain).

"It was just another start," McClellan said. "I'm going to remember a lot of things from this week but I don't think this (start) was any more significant than any other."

Now, the Cardinals are hoping to get right-hander Chris Carpenter, the staff ace, in gear. Carpenter, who will pitch Friday night at Kansas City, has only one win in his first nine starts.

NOTES AND QUOTES

The Cardinals had three of the top 11 hitters in the league sitting out Thursday. LF Matt Holliday (tight left quadriceps) and RF Lance Berkman (sprained right wrist) were out because of injuries and C Yadier Molina was resting. They were hitting .357, .349 and .323, respectively.

LF Matt Holliday (tight left quad) might be a designated hitter Friday in Kansas City. "It won't be too long, I can tell you that," Holliday said. Berkman likely will be out another day or two. But, manager Tony La Russa, noting the return of CF Colby Rasmus (strained abdominal muscle) and the continued good play of young OFs Jon Jay and Allen Craig, said, "We don't have to rush Matt or Lance."

INF/OF Allen Craig, who had three hits including his second home run, started at his third position in three days. First, he was in right field, then at second base and finally left field. "I don't care where I'm playing," Craig said.

RF Jon Jay had his hitting streak stopped at five games on Thursday, but made a sliding catch in the field.

RHP Fernando Salas is the closer of the moment. Salas, the fourth pitcher tried in the role by the Cardinals, earned up his fifth save in five tries by throwing a scoreless ninth Thursday. Manager Tony La Russa said he was going to be "hard-headed" about anointing the second-year pitcher the permanent closer but said, "You've got to acknowledge what he's doing."

C Gerald Laird contributed a two-run double as he continued to excel in limited duty. The Cardinals are 8-2 in his 10 starts. Regular C Yadier Molina is a roll, too, with 10 hits in his last 15 at-bats.

1B Albert Pujols starred defensively, as did RF Jay and 3B Daniel Descalso but Pujols went homerless for the 24th straight game. He hasn't had a home run in 91 at-bats.

BY THE NUMBERS: 8-1 - Record of the Cardinals in RHP Kyle McClellan's first nine starts in the majors.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're professional athletes. We've got to be able to separate that stuff."

- RHP Kyle McClellan, making a start just four days after the birth of his first child.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

LF Matt Holliday (left quadriceps tightness) came out of the game May 18. He indicated after the game the injury wasn't serious, but he might be out a day or two. Holliday did not play May 19 but said he might be able to be the designated hitter the following day.

RF Lance Berkman (sore right wrist) was injured making a diving catch May 18. He missed the game May 19 and is day-to-day.

INF Nick Punto (right forearm flexor strain) was placed on the 15-day disabled list May 18.

CF Colby Rasmus (right rib cage strain) was out May 15-18 and returned to action May 19.

3B David Freese (broken left hand) went on the 15-day disabled list May 2. He had surgery May 3, and he is expected to be out until mid- to late July.

2B Skip Schumaker (strained right triceps) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 16. He reported to extended spring training May 18 and hopes to return to the Cardinals within a couple of days.

LHP Bryan Tallet (fractured right hand) went on 15-day disabled list April 13. He is on a rehab assignment and should be back Friday.

RHP Bryan Augenstein (strained right groin) went on the 15-day disabled list April 13 and the 60-day DL on May 16.

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

 

Fri., May 20 at ROYALS: Chris Carpenter (1-3, 4.95) vs. Jeff Francis (0-5, 4.83) 7:10 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).

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