Cardinals Major League Notebook: 04/12/10

Pujols went deep twice again

The Cardinals hopes for a sweep in Milwaukee ended with a Casey McGehee walkoff, but Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday hit consecutive home runs to tie the game in the ninth Sunday night.

INSIDE PITCH

 

First baseman Albert Pujols and left fielder Matt Holliday showed why they are considered arguably the best 3-4 combination in any lineup Sunday night when they hit back-to-back, two-out homers off of Milwaukee closer Trevor Hoffman in the ninth inning to lift the Cardinals into a tie after they had fallen behind by five runs.

 

But the game ended unhappily for the Cardinals as they lost for the second time on their six-game trip as suddenly struggling right-hander Kyle McClellan surrendered a long, game-ending homer to Milwaukee third baseman Casey McGehee.

 

Right-hander Jason Motte similarly had been beaten by a Jonny Gomes walk-off homer in Cincinnati a few days before.

 

Home runs were the bugaboo of the night for the Cardinals. Staff ace Chris Carpenter, who hadn't been happy with his control late in spring training and had allowed two homers on over-the-plate pitches in the season-opener at Cincinnati, was touched for three more home runs in just five innings Sunday night.

 

The significance is that Carpenter already has given up nearly as many home runs (five) as he allowed all last season (seven).

 

McClellan, who excelled as a starter for much of spring training and then closed the spring with a four-strikeout, two-inning relief appearance after he had been moved back to the bullpen, now has given up three runs (two earned) in 1 2/3 innings, covering three outings. He has been scored on in every game he has pitched.

 

BREWERS 8, CARDINALS 7: The good news for the Cardinals is that they won their first two series, both on the road. The bad news is they lost the third game in each series, both on ninth-inning home runs. After Albert Pujols hit a two-run homer in the ninth off of Milwaukee's Trevor Hoffman to cut a once-large Brewers lead to one run, Matt Holliday tied the game with a shot over the center-field fence. But then, after left-hander Dennys Reyes had fanned Milwaukee's Prince Fielder in the bottom of the ninth, right-hander Kyle McClellan left a fastball over the middle of the plate to Milwaukee's Casey McGehee, who left no doubt on his game-ending homer.

 

NOTES, QUOTES

 

--CF Colby Rasmus, who had eight walks and two homers in the first five games, did not start against Milwaukee LHP Randy Wolf. "I'm seeing the ball good, but the swing doesn't feel right," said Rasmus, who popped up as a pinch hitter.

 

--OF Nick Stavinoha made his big-league catching debut -- a brief one -- in the bottom of the ninth. Yadier Molina was lifted from the game early when the Cardinals fell behind and manager Tony La Russa then pinch-hit for backup C Jason LaRue in the ninth. Stavinoha caught LHP Dennys Reyes' strike three to Brewers 1B Prince Fielder but not RHP Kyle McClellan's home-run toss to 3B Casey McGehee.

 

--INF Felipe Lopez started at his third different position -- third base, then shortstop and then second -- on Sunday and had two doubles. He had had just one hit previously in 11 at-bats.

 

--OF Ryan Ludwick's swing looks off. Ludwick is just 3-for-21 and appears to be lunging.

 

--1B Albert Pujols had been 0-for-6 against Milwaukee closer Trevor Hoffman before hitting his two-run homer in the ninth inning. Pujols already has had two multi-homer games this season.

 

BY THE NUMBERS: 12-0 -- RHP Chris Carpenter's record against National League Central Division teams over the last two seasons. He was taken off the hook Sunday night when he allowed seven runs in five innings only to have his team rally to tie the game in the ninth.

 

QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's always my goal -- to outlast the other starter." -- RHP Adam Wainwright, after working seven innings, one longer than Cincinnati RHP Johnny Cueto, in his first start of the season.

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