The Cardinals Major League Notebook 05/28

Jason LaRue's value as a backup catcher can be derived in these two statistics: Todd Wellemeyer, Wednesday's winner over Milwaukee, is 4-0 with a 1.78 ERA when LaRue catches him. And the Cardinals are 6-0 in games LaRue starts.

Not only did LaRue handle Wellemeyer (5-4) effectively again, but he also drove in the winning run with a single over drawn-in Milwaukee second baseman Craig Counsell in the sixth inning.

Wellemeyer, whose ERA in six starts with regular catcher Yadier Molina is 7.58, worked only 5 1/3 inning, but five Cardinals relievers got the final 11 outs.

"I pitched decent enough," said Wellemeyer, who again is bringing his hands over his head in his delivery after switching to an abbreviated motion for a while. "I'm getting more comfortable with my delivery. You put your focus on pitching and nothing else.

"But the bullpen's the story."

Trever Miller got one out, Chris Perez one out, Jason Motte three outs, Dennys Reyes two outs and Ryan Franklin four outs for his 12th save in 13 attempts.

With the Cardinals' excellent starting pitching lately, Franklin hadn't appeared in six days. "I was a little rusty," he said.

Also, a bobble by shortstop Brendan Ryan on a potential double-play ball in the ninth caused Franklin some extra work. But, after the play became only a forceout, Franklin gestured to Ryan that everything was OK. After a single by Counsell, Franklin retired J.J. Hardy on a grounder to Ryan.

"I really wanted to get that last groundball hit to him," Franklin said.

CARDINALS 3, BREWERS 2: After losing their first four games to the Brewers this season, the Cardinals won the last two of a three-game series in Milwaukee and took over undisputed first place in the National League Central for the first time since May 12. Rookie RF Nick Stavinoha, gaining favor daily, knocked in the first two runs and scored the third after a leadoff double in the sixth.

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