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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Wellemeyer struggles in loss to Mets

Righty yields 12 hits over five frames; Ankiel hits 16th homer
ST. LOUIS -- Ever since he was named May's Pitcher of the Month, Todd Wellemeyer has endured some trying times.

Against the Mets on Tuesday night, his fourth start since winning the award, Wellemeyer struggled through five innings on a tranquil night at Busch Stadium in a game the Cardinals lost, 7-4, to the visiting Mets.

Wellemeyer faced a myriad of problems, though he believed he pitched well enough to win. The Mets benefited from good placement on most of their ground balls.

"It was a battle tonight," Wellemeyer said. "Nights like tonight, you hope those ground balls find an infielder. Seven or eight times, they didn't find anybody. They hit some good pitches tonight, they really did."

By the end of the night, Wellemeyer's line read five innings, 12 hits, six earned runs and 98 pitches. Not exactly the type type of outing he had consistently over the first two months of the season.

Since returning from soreness in his right elbow, Wellemeyer has not been the same pitcher. In his last two starts at Busch Stadium, he has allowed 14 runs over 8 1/3 innings, for a 15.12 ERA. Going 1-3 since he was awarded for his domination of hitters, Wellemeyer admitted something is up.

"I don't want to say it, but I could probably use a couple of more bullpen sessions and get back to where I need to be," Wellemeyer said.

"I don't know if it's the fact that I haven't pitched enough. But I'm not going to have all three pitches working every single start."

Wellemeyer managed to get ahead of hitters and had Mets batters facing two-strike counts on a regular basis. But he couldn't put them away when it counted, as hitters fought off tough pitches for seeing-eye singles.

After falling behind early, the ground balls started to roll through holes and spur rallies for the Mets. Even though the Cardinals knocked Tony Armas around early, they couldn't strike a deadly blow, let alone touch him, for the rest of his outing.

Armas, who was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans on Monday, is 3-0 at the new Busch Stadium in his career. Asked why Armas is so good in St. Louis, second baseman Aaron Miles struggled to find a reason.

"I can't put a finger on it, no," Miles said. "I don't have an answer for that."

While no team takes solace in a loss, Miles' hitting streak has to be the silver lining. For 13 straight games, Miles has hit safely and is one game short of tying a career high.

In the first inning, Miles doubled to the right-field corner -- his lone hit of the night. Two batters later, Rick Ankiel gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead when he hit his 16th home run of the year.

Picking up a run in the second on a Skip Schumaker double, the Cardinals gave Wellemeyer a sufficient 3-1 lead, which he surrendered in the fourth inning.

Then the hits started falling for the Mets.

In the fourth, Carlos Delgado and Damion Easley singled to open the frame off Wellemeyer. Ramon Castro then hit a double deep into the gap in left-center field, scoring both runners easily.

An inning later, the Mets took advantage of Wellemeyer again. Endy Chavez singled and David Wright doubled to start the inning. Chavez scored on a sacrifice and Wright scored on a double from Ryan Church, who later crossed the plate on a single from Castro.

Brad Thompson entered in the sixth and gave up a solo home run to Wright, but it was his only blemish on the score sheet. Making his first appearance since he was recalled on Monday, Thompson gave up only two hits in four innings.

"He kept us in the game," manager Tony La Russa said. "Four innings, one run --- he gave everybody in the bullpen a break."

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