The Redbird Report 08/27

Because the Cardinals rarely gave him any chances, closer Jason Isringhausen had had only five saves from July 6 to Aug. 19. But now that they have played themselves back into contention in the National League Central, Isringhausen has saved five games in a week, including his 200th career save Sunday.

The Cardinals have won five of their last seven games, and Isringhausen has saved all of them, including Sunday's series-clinching victory over Atlanta.

Last year at about this time, Isringhausen was having severe problems with an arthritic left hip. He had surgery in September, knocking him out of the playoffs and World Series. But this year, as Isringhausen has recorded 27 saves in 29 opportunities, it's as if he were trying to make up for lost time.

"He knew when we got that last out and everybody charged the mound, that (closing) was his role," manager Tony La Russa said. "That's got to be part of his motivation."

Right-hander Adam Wainwright, who will be a "No. 1 starter," according to Atlanta manager Bobby Cox, reeled off his sixth consecutive quality start Sunday (at least six inning, three runs or fewer). He allowed only six hits and one walk in seven innings of one-run ball Sunday.

CARDINALS 4, BRAVES 1: After scoring five in the fifth inning to win Saturday's game, the Cardinals struck for three in the fifth Sunday to win the rubber game of a three-game series with Atlanta. For the second time in five days, the Cardinals moved within one game of the .500 mark at 63-64. Yadier Molina's double keyed the fifth-inning rally, and Juan Encarnacion hit his ninth homer in the sixth.

NOTES AND QUOTES

--RHP Jason Isringhausen's save Sunday was his 200th as a Cardinal. Manager Tony La Russa said there was considerable significance to the moment. "This a pretty historic franchise," La Russa said. "That ranks right up there." He is the Cardinals' all-time save leader, ahead of Lee Smith (160), Todd Worrell (129) and Bruce Sutter (127).

--SS David Eckstein sat out Sunday with a bruised finger on his right hand, the result of missing a bunt attempt Saturday. He said he expects to play Tuesday in Houston.

--LHP Mark Mulder allowed one run in four innings Sunday in his third rehabilitation start for Class A Palm Beach. Mulder, recovering from rotator cuff surgery from last September, is expected to start Friday for Class AAA Memphis.

--The Cardinals will enjoy their last day off of the season Monday. As a result of making up three rainouts, they will play their last 35 games in 34 days. "I think it's a wonderful opportunity," manager Tony La Russa said.

--RF Juan Encarnacion hit his ninth homer of the season Sunday, his first at home since July 5, a span of 51 at-bats.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 -- Number of home runs Jim Edmonds has off left-handed pitchers, but his second won a game, 6-4, against Florida.

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