Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/08/11

The Cardinals swept the Florida Marlins in the four-game weekend series. Milwaukee is next.

INSIDE PITCH

 

With an 8-4 win over the Florida Marlins on Sunday, the Cardinals posted a four-game series sweep on the road for the first time in more than seven years.

Every pitcher on the 12-man staff but right-hander Edwin Jackson, who will make the next start for the Cardinals, recorded at least one out. Every available hitter either got a hit or knocked in a run, with the exception of rookie catcher Tony Cruz, who played outstanding defense in handling two games, but went hitless.

"This team's deep," said infielder Ryan Theriot, whose first-pitch single in the seventh provided the go-ahead run Sunday.

"Who didn't help?" asked manager Tony La Russa. "To sweep here ... that's kind of unreal."

It was the first sweep of four games on the road for the Cardinals since May 31-June 3, 2004, in Pittsburgh.

The Cardinals finished with a 45-27 (.625) mark for their 19 seasons at the Marlins' Sun Life Stadium, by far the best record by any National League team.

The Cardinals, who left Milwaukee on Wednesday 3 1/2 games behind the red-hot Brewers in the National League Central Division race, will return home to face the Brewers on Tuesday night trailing by three games, having swept in Florida while Milwaukee was taking three in Houston.

"We played well," said first baseman Albert Pujols, whose 27th home run in the fourth inning left him one shy of right fielder Lance Berkman for the National League lead. "It's not how you start a road trip, it's how you finish a road trip."

Matt Holliday, who tied the game with a two-out single in the sixth, singled home two more runs in the seventh as the Cardinals strung together back-to-back three-run innings.

But the biggest hit might have been by Theriot, who played second base Sunday after sitting out the first three starts.

"I just want to win," Theriot said. "Whatever role that I'm in, I want to help out as much as I can.

"Do I want to be in there every day? Of course. That's what I've done my whole career. But, in the same breath, I've never been in a World Series either. I've never been on a team that's been past the first round of the playoffs. You give a little to get a lot."

Boxscore

Related article: "Cardinals fail to register long winning streak"

NOTES, QUOTES

LF Matt Holliday and CF Jon Jay each made Florida manager Jack McKeon pay for intentional walks to the hitters ahead of them in the lineup in the sixth inning. The first was notable because McKeon walked 1B Albert Pujols as the go-ahead run with Holliday, the cleanup man, on deck. Holliday singled to tie the game. Jay delivered a two-run single after another intentional walk to RF Lance Berkman.

"Albert's one of the greatest players of all time. They're going to walk him a lot," Holliday said. "But, yeah, it does feel good when you come through. Hopefully we can make them pay enough that they'll pitch to him. Ideally, you want Albert to hit with runners on, for him to do well and go from there." Pujols, who has led the National League in intentional walks the last three years, has been given a free ticket just six times this year.

LHP Jaime Garcia lasted only five innings, laboring through 97 pitches and committing a balk when he didn't come to a stop with a man at first base. It was the second time in a row that Garcia had gone just five innings.

"Jaime is working too hard," said manager Tony La Russa. "He looks good and, all of a sudden, he gets a guy on base and he reaches and his delivery (is affected). He's always at 100 percent and he's trying get to 110 and that never helps anybody. He was struggling. Those 90 pitches he threw were like 120."

3B David Freese has passed all the tests and has been given the go-ahead by both the Cardinals' medical staff and Major League Baseball to resume playing after sitting out three games following his beaning in the helmet on Thursday. "I'm ready to go," said Freese, who ran in the outfield and hit in the indoor cage Sunday in Miami. I had no (bad) reaction whatsoever."

Freese will appear at Busch Stadium on Monday's off-day and then expects to play Tuesday against Milwaukee.

RHP Fernando Salas fanned three men in the ninth inning in finishing up Sunday's 8-4 win. Salas, in his first season as the Cardinals' ninth-inning man after several relievers had tried and failed to close, has preserved 21 leads in 24 tries, a record comparable to almost any of the top veteran closers. So, to pitching coach Dave Duncan, Salas is a closer. "Why can't he be?" asked Duncan. "Guys are stereotyped. If you're not the guy throwing 95 or 96 and making people look silly, then they don't think you're the ideal guy for the job. But there's other ways to get it done. He can strike out people. And he doesn't walk people." Salas has fanned 56 and walked only 14 in 55 1/3 innings.

The Cardinals' bullpen was used often on their seven-game trip. Asked to cover 25 1/3 innings, the relievers were 4-0 with a 1.42 earned run average.

Manager Tony La Russa wouldn't go any further with his pitching rotation for the upcoming Milwaukee series than RHP Edwin Jackson, who will work Tuesday. RHPs Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook would be next in line, but Chris Carpenter could be moved into Thursday's start on four days' rest with Westbrook or Lohse skipped for a couple of days.

1B Albert Pujols, who has won the last two National League home run titles, hit his 27th Sunday and is just one behind RF Lance Berkman for the league lead. LF Matt Holliday, who hits behind Pujols, isn't surprised by Pujols' spurt of 11 homers in 28 games after he had returned quickly from a fractured left wrist. "Not at all," said Holliday. "It was just a matter of time."

OF/IF Allen Craig, on the DL with a broken bone in his right kneecap, is playing in games on a rehabilitation assignment at Class AAA Memphis and should be back with the big-league club sometime this week.

BY THE NUMBERS: 92 (years, at least) - Going back to at least 1919, the Cardinals hadn't won a nine-inning game scoring two or fewer runs and having 14 or more hits until they beat Florida with two runs and 14 hits Saturday.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've got to win just four more games than they do. That makes it easy."

- INF Ryan Theriot, on the Cardinals trying to run down the Brewers, whom they trail by three games in the standings.

ROSTER REPORT

 

MEDICAL WATCH:

3B David Freese (mild concussion, head contusion) left the Aug. 4 game, and he didn't play Aug. 5-7. He was given the go-ahead by both the Cardinals' medical staff and Major League Baseball to resume playing Aug. 9.

INF Nick Punto (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list July 29.

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. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 31.

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 was expected to return the second week of August.

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., Aug. 8: OPEN DATE

Tue., Aug. 9 vs. BREWERS: Edwin Jackson (8-8, 4.11) vs. Shaun Marcum (11-3, 3.58) 7:15 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).

VIDEO FROM FOXSPORTSMIDWEST.COM

<a href="http://www.foxsportsmidwest.com/pages/video?UUID=47613050-a32a-4b07-a77a-54b1558a499e&amp;src=SLPl:embed::uuids" target="_new" title="Cards on 8-4 win over Marlins">Video: Cards on 8-4 win over Marlins</a>
Shortstop Ryan Theriot and the Cardinals sound off after sweeping the Marlins Sunday afternoon.

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