Pirates-Cardinals: Wellemeyer Pitches Solid Start in Redbirds Victory

Derek CoffeltSenior Analyst IMay 31, 2008

It was the Cardinals’ third straight victory on Friday night as they defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-4.

Todd Wellemeyer pitched seven strong innings while striking out four and only allowing one earned run.

Wellemeyer followed in the footsteps of fellow teammate and Cardinals’ ace Adam Wainwright for their second straight effective start.

However, Wellemeyer has just recently been converted to being a starter and is making some heads turn, including his own manager Tony La Russa.

"He just got better and better," Cardinals’ manager Tony La Russa said.

Wellemeyer admitted that he wasn't even using all of his pitches in his arsenal due to the effectiveness of his two main pitches, the fastball and slider.

"Just simplifying it, you know," Wellemeyer said. "I'm not trying to think too much or do too much out there. I'm just pitching."

The effectiveness doesn't just end with Wellemeyer's pitches.  The entire staff is the only NL team to average more the six innings per start (6.05), the second most wins in the NL (25), and has the second best ERA in the entire league (3.77).

Manager Tony La Russa's praise was felt all around.

"They've consistently given us a chance to win as a group," La Russa said. "They're doing all the things to get themselves ready, and when they go out there, they compete. High class."

Not lost in the start was yet a two-run homerun by slugger Albert Pujols. It was his 14th of the season as he continues to heat up and show why he is one of the most feared hitters in the game.

As good as the Cardinals’ starting rotation has been, their bullpen has been extremely inconsistent. While they helped shutdown the Astros in just the previous series, they allowed the Pirates to nearly take the game back.

With a 5-1 lead entering the ninth inning, Ryan Franklin allowed a bloop single followed by a three-run double that fell just short of a grand slam.

The collapse had the Cardinals’ skipper La Russa nervous.

"It got very scary there at the end," La Russa said.

While the bullpen continues to show the cracks in their armor, the Cardinals have shown that they can win any type of game. Whether it is a blowout or nail-biter, the Redbirds continue to prove that they're contenders that are here to stay.