Cardinals Major League Notebook: 09/30/09

Joel Pineiro again pitched like the Joel Pineiro of old and the offense continued its inconsistent ways as St. Louis was soundly defeated in Cincinnati Tuesday night.

Inside Pitch

 

Joel Pineiro, who passed the 200-inning mark for the first time since 2003 in his last outing, had one of his worst starts of the season Tuesday.

 

The right-hander, who had the major leagues' best homer ratio, having permitted just seven in 203 innings, served up three in six innings, including two to Jay Bruce.

 

Pineiro, 15-12 with one start remaining, agreed with the perception that he left too many balls up in the strike zone, the bane for a sinkerball pitcher. And plenty of Reds made contact, as Cincinnati scored seven runs off Pineiro in six innings. Only one hitter, the last one he faced (pitcher Homer Bailey), was a strikeout victim.

 

The seven runs allowed matched Pineiro's highest output of the season. He also was tagged for seven in five innings Aug. 4 against the Mets.

 

Pineiro now has lost three of his last four decisions after reeling off eight wins in a row from July 9 to Sept. 1.

 

REDS 7, CARDINALS 2: Albert Pujols' fifth-inning sacrifice fly, good for his 133rd RBI, and rookie David Freese's first major league homer, a 429-foot blast in the ninth, accounted for the only Cardinals offense as St. Louis lost for the fourth time in five games. Joel Pineiro allowed a three-run homer to Cincinnati's Jay Bruce in the second inning and subsequently gave up a solo homer to Joey Votto and a two-run drive by Bruce.

 

Notes and Quotes

 

--The Cardinals took another step closer to becoming the third seed among the division leaders, which would put them on the road for the first two games of the divisional round. St. Louis is one game behind Philadelphia for second among the division leaders but really is two games behind with five to play because the Phillies won the season series, which is the tiebreaker.

 

--The Cardinals used a third catcher Tuesday for the first time all season. Rookie Matt Pagnozzi, making his major league debut, relieved C Jason LaRue for the last two innings. Pagnozzi is the nephew of three-time Gold Glover C Tom Pagnozzi, who spent 12 seasons with the Cardinals and was the starting catcher for manager Tony La Russa's first Cardinals team in 1996. Pagnozzi walked in his only plate appearance and caught a pop foul off on the Reds' first at-bat after he came into the game in the seventh inning.

 

--RHP John Smoltz probably will get his last regular-season start Wednesday in Cincinnati as he continues his bid to be in the four-man postseason rotation.

 

BY THE NUMBERS: 37-18 -- Cardinals' record in the first 55 games LF Matt Holliday played for them.

 

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I nit-pick. But I feel the progress I'm making is pretty darn good." -- RHP John Smoltz, after his sixth of six straight good starts for the Cardinals.

 

Roster Report

 

--C Yadier Molina was out of the Cardinals' lineup for a second straight day with a bruised left knee, but manager Tony La Russa said there was "a good chance" Molina would be able to play sometime in the three-game series in Cincinnati. Molina was hit by a fouled bunt attempt by Colorado 2B Clint Barmes on Saturday.

 

--3B Troy Glaus, who had been left home from the first two legs of the trip as he dealt with an oblique muscle pull, rejoined the team in Cincinnati and pronounced himself "good to go." Glaus was 0-for-2 off the bench, flying out to deep left in his second at-bat. The 2002 World Series Most Valuable Player should get several more opportunities before the week is over as the Cardinals try to get a read on whether they should put him on a playoff roster.

 

--LF Matt Holliday returned from a game off due to illness and extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an infield hit. Holliday, who later had a double, is 12-for-37 in that time, and his average actually has gone down during the hitting streak because he is a .356 hitter in his two-plus months with the Cardinals.

 

--3B Mark DeRosa became 2B Mark DeRosa and then LF Mark DeRosa. But while DeRosa played three positions, he had no hits and is hitless in his last 11 at-bats.

 

MEDICAL WATCH:

 

LF Matt Holliday (flu) did not play Sept. 27. He returned to the lineup Sept. 29.

 

SS Brendan Ryan (bruised right index finger) left the Sept. 27 game, and he did not play Sept. 29.

 

C Yadier Molina (sore left knee) left the Sept. 26 game, and he didn't play Sept. 27 and Sept. 29. He is day-to-day.

 

3B Troy Glaus (pulled left oblique muscle) did not play since Sept. 13-27. He returned to action Sept. 29.

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