Wellemeyer, Cardinals blank Royals
Lately, the St. Louis Cardinals' rotation has been virtually untouchable. Even struggling Todd Wellemeyer was dominant Friday night.
"I want to get on that thing and keep riding it as long as we can," Wellemeyer said after taking a three-hitter into the seventh inning of a 5-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals, the fourth straight solid outing by a Cardinals starter. "I don't think it's contagious. Maybe it is, I don't know. We'll keep the ball rolling, though."
The Cardinals leaned on rookies for offense. Nick Stavinoha had a two-run single in the first off Kyle Davies (2-3), who later retired 15 in a row. Tyler Greene hit his second career homer in the seventh for the Cardinals, whose stingy starters have allowed one run in 28 2-3 innings during the winning streak.
The Royals have lost 10 of 13 and dropped to .500 (21-21) for the first time since they were 10-10 on April 28. Manager Trey Hillman said he'd alter the lineup on Saturday, likely moving No. 2 hitter Alberto Callaspo back down in the order to sixth or seventh.
Callaspo was 0 for 4 Friday and is 2 for 16 overall with no RBIs in six games near the top of the lineup.
"I'll shake it up a little," Hillman said. "I mean, I feel like I need to do something. We'll probably do that tomorrow and see if we can at least plate one run."
Jason Motte struck out pinch-hitters Willie Bloomquist and Billy Butler with runners on second and third to preserve a 2-0 lead in the seventh and ended up with three strikeouts in 1 2-3 innings. The Cardinals have outscored the opposition 13-2 during the streak, including their second and third shutouts of the season, and this was the first game that wasn't close.
Wellemeyer (4-4) retired the first six hitters and 11 of the first 12 to distance himself from two previous starts in which he allowed 11 runs in 10 innings, finding his footing against the team that waived him in May 2007. Wellemeyer walked a career-worst seven in his last outing against the Brewers, but had much better control against Kansas City with three walks and three strikeouts while allowing four hits in six-plus innings.
He said the biggest difference was not over-thinking on the mound.
"I just kind of went out there just going right after them, which was what I wanted to do," Wellemeyer said. "Just pitch and hit the catcher's mitt, that's all I tried to do."
Wellemeyer entered 1-3 with a 6.51 ERA at home, lowering it to a still hefty 5.35.
Trever Miller, Motte and Kyle McClellan finished the five-hitter.
Stavinoha, likely holding a roster spot until injured outfielders Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick return from the 15-day disabled list, put the Cardinals ahead with his two-out, two-run single in the first. The rookie has started six straight games in right field and has three RBIs.
"We're hanging there in, trying to do what we can until they get back," Stavinoha said.
Greene hit his second homer into the Cardinals' bullpen in right field on a 3-2 pitch from Horacio Ramirez for a 3-0 lead in the seventh. Pinch-hitter Khalil Greene, who has started only one of the last eight games due to anxiety issues related to a slump, added a two-run single off Kyle Farnsworth in the eighth.
Davies allowed two runs on only three hits in six innings after his shaky start. He's 0-1 on the road in five starts despite a 2.16 ERA.
Albert Pujols received his 2008 NL MVP plaque in a pregame ceremony, and a replica statue giveaway commemorating the award attracted the sixth sellout of the season at 43,429. ... The "I" on the Big Mac Land sign above the left-field wall remained off, a day after Pujols' knocked it out with a first-inning homer. Beneath the sign the team added a sign that read "Ouch! my "I". ... Missouri basketball coach Mike Anderson threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Mike Aviles was hitless in two at-bats and is in a 2-for-22 slump with no RBIs. The Royals were 13-5 in interleague play last year, including 4-2 against the Cardinals.