Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/21/09

Shortstop Brendan Ryan led the Cardinals to a game one win in San Diego Thursday night with his bat, glove and arm.

INSIDE PITCH

 

Shortstop Brendan Ryan continues to be impressive.

 

The Cardinals only need Ryan, in his first year as a regular, to make the routine plays at his position. The bonus comes in the spectacular ones he often turns in, such as throwing out San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez from short center field Thursday night.

 

Ryan also has contributed with the bat, no more so than he did in the second inning Thursday when he cracked his second homer of the season and the first grand slam of his career.

 

Padres pitcher Tim Stauffer had hit two batters and walked one to load the bases with one out, and Ryan got ahead in the count 3-0. He had the hit sign at 3-0 but didn't like the next pitch. On the 3-1 pitch, he reached the left-center-field seats. "I was just trying not to hit a groundball," said Ryan.

 

Ryan was an erratic extra man in his first two seasons in the big leagues and occasionally found his way into manager Tony La Russa's doghouse.

 

"I guess before he was kind of goofy and not taking it as seriously as he is now," said pitcher Joel Pineiro. "He's matured."

 

La Russa said Ryan is a more complete player now. "His concentration is better, his reliability is better and he's stayed healthy," said La Russa. "He definitely has established respect and trust here. You have to keep doing it, but he shows no signs of letting up."

 

Thursday, Pineiro gained his sixth straight win. The Cardinals are 9-0 in his last nine starts. Pineiro struggled a bit early, walking two in the first three innings, but catcher Yadier Molina helped him by throwing out both runners trying to steal second.

 

Only four runners have tried to steal on Pineiro this year. Molina has thrown out all four. "He's the best," said Pineiro.

 

La Russa said, "You can't overestimate those two throws by Yadi. Joel wasn't sharp early."

 

"And the way (Molina) handles the pitching staff is a separate show."

 

Cardinals 5, Padres 1:   RHP Joel Pineiro gained his 12th win by going 7 2/3 innings before three Cardinals relievers finished up. The Cardinals have beaten the Padres in all four meetings this season, with three more games remaining in San Diego this weekend.

 

NOTES, QUOTES

 

• RHP John Smoltz threw his first bullpen session for the Cardinals. He will start Sunday in San Diego and again next week against Washington at home. Smoltz said the fact the Cardinals had built such a big lead afforded them the opportunity for him to make a couple of starts. He added, "I know I can compete and get the job done. I've got all the pitches. I just need to repeat them a little bit better than I did in Boston."

 

• The Cardinals' victory Thursday was No. 9,999 in their history. They will become the fourth major league club to reach the 10,000 plateau. This year, they have won 11 of their last 13 and 17 of their last 22.

 

• At 17 over .500 for the first time since 2005, the Cardinals reached the 70-win mark. To reach manager Tony La Russa's goals of getting 20 over, the Cardinals would have to go 21-18 the rest of the way.

 

ROSTER REPORT

 

• RHP Kyle McClellan faced only one hitter, but it came with the bases loaded in the eighth. McClellan induced SS David Eckstein to ground out.

 

• RHP Jason Motte, who has been struggling for several weeks, was allowed to finish the game, and it took him just three pitches to strike out RF Kyle Blanks to end it. The third strike was a slider by Motte, who has had trouble harnessing that pitch.

 

• SS Brendan Ryan continues to be impressive. The Cardinals only need Ryan, in his first year as a regular, to make the routine plays at his position. The bonus comes in the spectacular ones he often turns in, such as throwing out San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez from short center field Thursday night. Ryan also has contributed with the bat, no more so than he did in the second inning Thursday when he cracked his second homer of the season and the first grand slam of his career.

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