The Cardinals Major League Notebook 08/07

Chris Perez is the latest entry in the Cardinals' closer derby. Perez, recalled from Class AAA Memphis on Wednesday, earned his first big-league save with 1 2/3 scoreless innings.

This came on a day when it was announced that Adam Wainwright, out with a sprained middle finger, was going to begin a rehabilitation option -- as a reliever -- at Class AAA Memphis on Friday.

Manager Tony La Russa had said before Wednesday's game that, for the moment, he was adopting the closer-by-committee approach. "I'm going to look at the guys available and piece it together to the best of my ability," La Russa said. "There isn't anybody in that bullpen that couldn't pitch the ninth inning, in my opinion. Mix and match the best I can. Just watch the game. That's the best way to describe it. That way you don't get too specific and have to come back and explain it."

After Perez had dazzled the Dodgers both with his breaking ball and fastball, La Russa cautioned, "That was impressive. But let him fly under the radar screen a little. I don't think he needs any extra attention or distraction.

"I don't think Chris needs to hear he's the next Bruce Sutter here yet."

Joel Pineiro, who has had leads in 17 of his 19 starts, finally earned his fourth win, lasting seven innings and giving up four runs.

"We score one and give up two and you say, 'Here we go again,'" La Russa said. "But he did a great job in collecting himself."

On the offensive side, Albert Pujols trumped Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez's solo homer with a grand slam in a 4-for-4 night. La Russa didn't think Ramirez being in town had anything to do with Pujols' performance.

"He was hitting .350 when Manny showed up," La Russa said. "I just think Albert's in Manny Ramirez's class. I don't doubt that there's a natural tendency to want to impress your peers, and he's one of (Ramirez's) peers. But Albert's a tough out if you're playing at 1 o'clock with nobody in the stands."

CARDINALS 9, DODGERS 6: 1B Albert Pujols, who had been just 1-for-6 with the bases loaded this season, slammed the sixth grand slam of his career. RF Ryan Ludwick tied a single-season club record held by four others, including Pujols, by homering in his fifth straight game.

NOTES AND QUOTES:

--INF/OF Felipe Lopez singled in his Cardinals debut as a left fielder. "When he was with Cincinnati and Washington, we inquired about him," manager Tony La Russa said. "We're excited to have him on our team."

--CF Rick Ankiel was reportedly improved, but, still bothered by a strained abdominal muscle, did not start for the 10th straight game. Ankiel struck out as a pinch hitter but won't start Thursday afternoon either.

"He ran at 75 percent," manager Tony La Russa said. "That's still 25 percent that has to get well."

--RF Ryan Ludwick had a homer and two singles, extending his hitting streak to nine games (18-for-37, .486).

--CF Skip Schumaker hiked his hitting streak to 10 games with a single. He is 16-for-41 (.390) during that span.

--The Cardinals beat the Dodgers for the eighth time in nine games at the newest Busch Stadium, opened in 2006.

--OF Nick Stavinoha was optioned to Class AAA Memphis to make room for RHP Chris Perez, brought up to help an overworked bullpen.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- Starts out of 19 won by RHP Joel Pineiro, after his victory Aug. 6.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Not my favorite news." -- Manager Tony La Russa on OF Manny Ramirez being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were the next scheduled opponents for the Cardinals.

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