Weekend finishes with Cards at top
Posted: Monday, May 24, 2010 6:15 pm
By: By R.B. FALLSTROM, AP Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Felipe Lopez was so focused on the game-deciding at-bat, he failed to notice the Angels had a five-man infield.
Lopez beat the alignment when he lofted a bases-loaded single in the 10th inning well past the two remaining outfielders who were drawn in, giving the St. Louis Cardinals a 6-5 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
“They can have the whole team in the infield, I don’t care,” Lopez said. “I don’t pay attention to that. Sometimes they do that to distract the hitter, I just try to stay within myself and what I can do.”
With the win, St. Louis regained first place in the National League Central with Sunday’s victory after losing it to Cincinnati over the weekend.
Ryan Franklin (3-0) struck out three and allowed a bunt hit in two innings, the longest outing of the season for the Cardinals’ closer. St. Louis trailed by four runs in the fourth and two after seven, matching its biggest comeback of the season. The Cardinals took two of three from Los Angeles to wind up a 5-2 homestand, although enthusiasm was tempered by the likelihood they’ll be missing two starting pitchers on a six-game trip that starts Tuesday in San Diego.
Brad Penny (upper back) went on the 15-day disabled list Saturday and Kyle Lohse (forearm) is scheduled for extensive testing Monday and not optimistic about taking his next turn.
“I want to pitch, I’ve just got to figure out what’s going on,” Lohse said.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia often brings in the center fielder when a run will beat his team, and had Torii Hunter stationed just to the right of second base. Lopez’s fly ball to straightaway center landed at the warning track in straightaway center.
Mike Napoli homered for the third straight game, a three-run shot off a 3-0 pitch from Chris Carpenter that put the Angels ahead 4-0 in the fourth. Jered Weaver had eight strikeouts in six solid innings, bouncing back from his worst outing of the year, and Kendry Morales also homered.
“Our guys got to a great pitcher,” Weaver said. “We just couldn’t hold it.”
Albert Pujols was 0-for-3 with two walks and committed his first two errors of the season at first base for the Cardinals. Pujols has no RBI the last nine games, but pulled off a double steal with Colby Rasmus on the back end to set up David Freese’s tying two-run single off Fernando Rodney with two outs in the eighth.
“That was Albert reading and making it happen,” manager Tony La Russa said.
Freese, a 27-year-old rookie, is batting .386 with runners in scoring position. Rodney, who had converted 21 straight save chances, needed 37 pitches to get two outs, although Jason Bulger struck out pinch-hitter Nick Stavinoha with the bases loaded to keep it tied.
Napoli also singled twice while going 6 for 12 with seven RBIs, including two-run homers Friday and Saturday and has six homers overall, four in the last seven games.
“It’s coming around,” Napoli said. “But it’s nice to get wins, too.”
The Cardinals loaded the bases for the second straight inning in the 10th on a pair of walks and a hit batsman off Scot Shields (0-2).
Carpenter has allowed nine homers in 10 starts, two more than he gave up all last year while winning the NL ERA title. He allowed five runs, four earned, in six innings after working eight the previous two starts. The first swing and miss by an Angels hitter came when Howie Kendrick struck out to end the third.
Errors by Pujols on consecutive at-bats in the fifth handed the Angels a run for a 5-3 lead. Pujols couldn’t handle Erick Aybar’s grounder to his left, then hit Aybar in the back trying to catch the lead runner on Kendrick’s grounder.
Yadier Molina had totaled two RBI in his previous 11 games before hitting a two-run single in the fourth. The Cardinals loaded the bases with one out with two singles and a walk and Molina beat Weaver on a full count to cap an eight-pitch at-bat, and a third run scored when Brendan Ryan’s grounder rolled between Aybar’s legs at short.
NOTES: The last time the Angels homered in 10 straight games was Sept. 12-25, 2008. … Pujols drew his 839th walk in the eighth, tying him with Enos Slaughter for third on the franchise list. … Carpenter is 4-2 against the Angels, but hadn’t faced them since 2000 and hasn’t beaten them since 1999. … Stadium personnel retrieved a cell phone from a gutter in the upper deck in the bottom of the eighth, using a ladder placed outside the press box. … All three games of the weekend series were sold out, with paid attendance of 42,417 giving the Cardinals six sellouts on the season.