Cardinals Major League Notebook: 05/23/11

Laird was hit by a pitch while bunting

The Cardinals won a wild series-clinching game in Kansas City Sunday but lost catcher Gerald Laird with a broken finger.

INSIDE PITCH

 

The Cardinals wrapped up their 11th series win in their last 13 series by beating Kansas City 9-8 in 10 innings Sunday. But backup catcher Gerald Laird, who has played in eight wins in the 10 games he has started, suffered a broken right index finger when by a pitch in the 10th inning. He is likely to be lost for six weeks to two months.

Manager Tony La Russa said, "A win like this, and then to lose (Laird), who's been a key part of this club, there's no celebrating."

Tony Cruz, who was in the Cardinals' camp in spring training, was expected to be recalled from Class AAA Memphis in time to join the Cardinals on Monday night in San Diego. Cruz, who has never played in the majors, is hitting .232 with four homers and 16 RBI for Memphis this season.

The Cardinals squandered a six-run lead, as the Royals tied the game with two runs in the seventh inning off left-hander Brian Tallet, making his first appearance in the majors since breaking his right hand April 12, and right-handed rookie Eduardo Sanchez, who had more control issues. In the inning before, when starter Jaime Garcia was given a quick hook after allowing a homer to Jeff Francoeur, Miguel Batista gave up a two-run homer. Batista hadn't pitched for nine days.

St. Louis scored its two runs in the 10th on bases-loaded walks to Colby Rasmus, who became the first Cardinals player to be walked five times in a game by five different pitchers, and Yadier Molina, who finished with four hits.

Rasmus, who had struck out five times in his last eight at-bats before his walk spree, said, "I wasn't looking to take a pitch at all. I was going up there every at-bat looking to swing at the first pitch."

The Cardinals have tied their largest National League Central lead of the year at 2 1/2 games, as the Reds have hit a five-game skid.

Sunday's win probably should have taken a lot less time than 4 hours, 9 minutes, but Molina said, "A win is a win. No matter how many men are left on base (15), no matter how we won."

NOTES AND QUOTES

C Yadier Molina has joined the NL's batting leaders at .333 after going 15 for his last 26, including 4-for-5 with three RBI on Sunday. Many of his hits have been to the opposite field. "Yadi's a middle to right-center kind of hitter," hitting coach Mark McGwire said. "And if he accidentally turns on a ball and pulls it, that's perfect. He's good. And, on top of it, damn, catching and getting beat up by all the one-hop pitches, it's just amazing what he's doing, playing day in and day out. It's pretty awesome."

LHP Jaime Garcia, who entered the day 5-0 with a big-league-leading 1.64 ERA, was pulled with nobody out in the sixth inning. The Cardinals led 7-3 after he had given up a homer to Royals RF Jeff Francoeur. He didn't get the win. Garcia had averaged eight innings over his previous three starts, giving up a total of one earned run, but manager Tony La Russa said he thought Garcia "was really fighting it." Garcia disagreed with La Russa's assessment, but pitching coach Dave Duncan said, "(Garcia) wasn't at his best. And then he flattened out a little. Maybe he got a little careless with a 7-1 lead. He can't do that. He's got to use that as a learning experience."

DH Matt Holliday, who wasn't playing the outfield in Kansas City because he was nursing a tight left quadriceps, felt a tug in the same area while he was running Sunday, and he came out in the fifth inning. He is doubtful for Monday's game in San Diego.

SS Ryan Theriot was held out because he was sick, either because of the flu or food poisoning.

Rookie SS Pete Kozma made his first major league start, and 2B Allen Craig played strong defense and also hit a homer. It was a keystone combination manager Tony La Russa probably never thought he would use, but he said, "I'm a one-day-at-a-time guy."

2B Skip Schumaker (right triceps strain) has been rehabbing in extended spring training in Jupiter, Fla. Schumaker is progressing, but there is no timetable for his return, according to manager Tony La Russa. It is likely, though, that Schumaker will meet up with the club sometime during the extension of the road trip that takes the Cardinals to San Diego and Colorado.

1B Albert Pujols, though he had two singles - one an infield hit - failed to hit a home run, extending his homer drought to a career-long 103 at-bats. After lining a ball to right for an out in the sixth inning, Pujols kicked the air in apparent frustration as he rounded first.

RF Lance Berkman, who missed the previous three games due to a sore right wrist, returned to the lineup Sunday. He went 0-for-4 with two walks.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0 - Home games pitched in May by RHP Ryan Franklin, the former closer.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You never really have a completely happy day managing. Ever. I was told that as a young guy, and I've never really had one completely happy day. There's always something that messes with it."

- Manager Tony La Russa, after his team won 9-8 but lost C Gerald Laird with a broken finger Sunday.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

RF Lance Berkman (sore right wrist) was injured making a diving catch May 18. He didn't play May 19-21, but he returned to action May 22.

LF Matt Holliday (tight left quadriceps) left the May 22 game. He is doubtful for the May 23 game.

SS Ryan Theriot (illness) did not play May 22.

C Gerald Laird (broken right index finger) was injured May 22. He will be out until July.

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

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 he hoped to return to the Cardinals in late May.

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

 

Mon., May 23 at PADRES: Kyle Lohse (5-2, 2.17) vs. Dustin Moseley (1-6, 3.40) 9:05 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).

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