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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Off night for Wainwright tough for Cards

Molina, La Russa ejected as St. Louis falls to Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE -- Even when Adam Wainwright felt he hit the corners, it was bad news for the Cardinals.

Wainwright was way off other times, leaving pitches over the plate for Brewers slugger Ryan Braun, who cranked two home runs in the second straight game, an 8-3 loss for the Cardinals on Monday night in which both Yadier Molina and Tony La Russa were ejected.

Wainwright fell for the first time in six starts, and the Cardinals, who have dropped five of six after reaching 10 games over .500 on May 6, fell out of first place in the National League Central for the first time since April 28 because the Cubs beat the Padres.

Wainwright (3-2) said he repeatedly threw the ball to the wrong spot.

"It was painful, because I had decent stuff; I just wasn't locating," Wainwright said. "Most of the time, I was trying to go in on guys -- I didn't get the ball in. A lot of times, I tried to sink the ball in or off the plate. I'm throwing it down the middle time and time again."

Wainwright and Molina, his catcher, felt a couple of pitches in Milwaukee's five-run third inning -- one to Prince Fielder, another to Corey Hart -- caught a corner of the plate but were not called strikes. Molina complained twice, and he earned a quick ejection from home-plate umpire Paul Schrieber.

After he got the heave-ho, with La Russa still arguing with the umpire, Molina removed all of his catcher's gear and tossed it at Schrieber's feet.

"I didn't say anything bad to him," Molina said. "I respect every umpire in the league. I just had to ask him where it was, the pitch, and he didn't like the way I asked him. And he threw me out."

La Russa said he went out to save Molina from being thrown out.

"I thought it was really unfair," La Russa said. "Yadier's got a reputation for being as respectful and as professional as any catcher out there. You complain a little bit, and you get some extra slack and he's one of those guys. He complained twice. I thought that was surprising and not what he deserved."

La Russa did not think a fine or suspension would be appropriate.

"I don't think he insulted" Schrieber, La Russa said.

Molina had no comment about his equipment removal, but Wainwright got some comic relief from it.

"That was awesome," Wainwright said. "If you're going to get tossed, you might as well make it a good one."

Wainwright said Schrieber gave Molina a quick hook, but he did not blame the umpire for not giving him the corner.

"You really can't fault him," Wainwright said. "They're two tough pitches, two of the only pitches I threw on the corner all night. He wasn't used to seeing them."

The Brewers, at that point, led, 2-1, on Braun's first homer and an RBI double by Mike Cameron. Wainwright -- now with Jason LaRue catching -- fell behind Hart, who hit a two-run double with two outs.

"If I get Hart right there, it's a 2-1 ballgame and it's a completely different game," Wainwright said. "We probably are going to have a chance to win the game, if I make a couple good pitches to Hart. I threw a backup slider right down the middle."

Bill Hall's fly ball to short right field was dropped by second baseman Adam Kennedy, who made two lunges at the ball, which slipped out of his glove twice and hit the ground. Two more runs scored on the error, making it 6-1.

Braun -- who went 9-for-16 in the series and is 16-for-33 with eight RBIs against the Cardinals this season -- also went deep in fifth against Wainwright, who had not allowed more than four runs in any of his previous seven starts.

Wainwright (3-2) came in fourth in the National League in ERA, but he allowed eight runs -- six earned -- and eight hits and a walk over six innings.

"He just had a rough night," La Russa said. "Usually, one of his strengths is making a pitch, and he had trouble making a pitch. He got penalized. But, you know, we didn't score. If we're having a good offensive day, we can pick him up. We didn't do either."

The Cardinals rested Albert Pujols, who reached base in each of the team's first 39 -- the longest such streak in the Majors in nine seasons -- replacing him with Chris Duncan.

Rick Ankiel's solo home run in the first against Dave Bush (1-4) got the Cards on the board.

St. Louis brought the potential tying run to the on-deck circle in the ninth, but Ankiel struck out against Guillermo Mota, the Brewers' closer of the moment with Eric Gagne in middle relief.

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