Cardinals Major League Notebook: 07/27/11

Westbrook went six innings

The Cardinals made it two in a row over Houston Tuesday night at Busch Stadium as Jake Westbrook kept the ball down in the zone.

INSIDE PITCH

 

Jake Westbrook has put together three good games for the first time in awhile, and his efficient, six-inning stint on Tuesday night raised his record to 9-4 with a 3-1 win over Houston.

Westbrook had to pitch from the stretch a lot -- he allowed seven hits, and his only perfect inning was his last one. But the sinkerballer got 12 of his 18 outs on groundouts, indicating that he was down in the strike zone.

In Westbrook's last three starts, he is 2-0 and has given up just five earned runs in 19 innings.

"Location," said manager Tony La Russa. "He's just getting the ball where he's aiming it. And he's not getting it over the middle of the plate."

Westbrook said, "Even if it's over the middle of the plate, a ball down is still good."

The Cardinals' bullpen was mostly a good-news proposition with one piece of bad news. La Russa has been hesitant lately to use either of his left-handed relievers, Trever Miller and Raul Valdes, and Miller didn't generate much confidence Tuesday. He allowed a first-pitch single to Houston left fielder Michael Bourn, the only man he faced.

But right-handers Jason Motte, Lance Lynn and Fernando Salas retired nine of the 10 men they faced over the last three innings. Salas posted his 19th save in 22 attempts, getting three strikeouts in the ninth.

The Cardinals hit two homers -- maybe -- for all their runs.

There was no question about third baseman David Freese's solo shot off Houston starter Brett Myers in the sixth. The ball went into the Cardinals' bullpen in right.

There was some question -- and a review -- of first baseman Albert Pujols' two-run drive to center in the first. The televised replays indicated that the ball hit either the top of the padded wall or the concrete atop the wall before bouncing back, but the umpires' call stood after they looked at replays in the bowels of Busch Stadium.

La Russa, of course, thought it was a home run. "You don't get a rebound like that unless it hits something behind the fence," said La Russa.

Pujols, whose homer was his 23rd and his sixth in 16 games since he returned from a fractured left wrist, said, "It was tough for me to see. But it bounced 10 feet over (center fielder Bourn's) head, so it had to hit something hard."

Boxscore

NOTES, QUOTES

LF Matt Holliday was a scratch with a case of the stomach flu. RF Lance Berkman, who was scheduled to take another day to rest his strained right shoulder, replaced Holliday in the lineup but then had to come out of the game in the fourth inning when he did not feel comfortable swinging. Berkman will have an MRI on Wednesday and possibly an injection and isn't expected to play for several days although he said, "I don't think it's anything catastrophic. I don't think it's serious, but it's there. It's affecting me more mentally. I'm not trusting myself to cut (the bat) loose. It's more something I don't want to see exacerbated."

SS Ryan Theriot was out of the lineup, replaced by rookie Daniel Descalso. Theriot is 2 for his last 34. Descalso made several good plays in the field in his sixth start at shortstop and also had two hits.

3B David Freese hit his fifth home run but will get a day off on Wednesday, manager Tony La Russa said, citing hot weather. Freese also has been playing with a tight hamstring, and La Russa said he didn't want to push Freese. "My only regret is that if he might be out 14, 15 days (if La Russa pushed him). No regrets," said La Russa. "We've got other guys who can sock it."

2B Skip Schumaker, who finished up in the outfield when RF Lance Berkman had to leave the game, had two hits and thus is 42 for 121 (.347) since June 4. Schumaker had missed five weeks earlier with a strained right triceps and had gone 5-for-33 upon his return before generating his current eight-week stretch. "We probably rushed him back," manager Tony La Russa said of Schumaker, who had only a couple of days on a rehabilitation option before the club activated him.

RHP Lance Lynn, getting three groundball outs in the eighth inning, continued to impress manager Tony La Russa, "He's got a chance to be a force," said La Russa. "He got a couple of outs on breaking balls. He's not just firing his fastball."

BY THE NUMBERS: 40 and 431 - 1B Albert Pujols tied Cal Ripken Jr. for 40th place on the all-time home run list with his 431st in the first inning.  

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's a .300 hitter. Once he gets it, he strangles it."

- Manager Tony La Russa, on the two-month stretch of hot hitting by 2B/OF Skip Schumaker, who has hiked his average to .288.

 

ROSTER REPORT

 

MEDICAL WATCH:

RF Lance Berkman (strained right shoulder) was inserted in the lineup July 26 when LF Matt Holliday was a late scratch, but then Berkman had to leave the game in the fourth inning when his injury continued to bother him. He is scheduled for an MRI on Wednesday.

LF Matt Holliday (stomach flu) was a late scratch July 26.

RHP Kyle Lohse (inflamed middle right finger) left the team July 21 to have an exam in St. Louis. He threw a side session July 22 and made his start July 24 at Pittsburgh.

LHP Brian Tallet (strained right intercostal muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 4. He was injured while sneezing.

RHP Eduardo Sanchez (mild right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 13. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Springfield on July 7 but had renewed soreness soon after and was shut down until late August or early September.

OF Allen Craig (broken right kneecap) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 8. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Memphis on July 23, and he figures to return after Aug. 1.

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

Wed., July 27 vs. ASTROS: Chris Carpenter (6-7, 3.73) vs. Bud Norris (5-7, 3.70) 7:15 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).

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