ST. LOUIS -- It was a getaway day lineup for the Cardinals on Thursday, but manager Tony La Russa was adamant that St. Louis' starting nine didn't constitute a set of auditions.
In addition to Matt Pagnozzi starting for the injured Yadier Molina behind the plate, the Cardinals called on Nick Stavinoha in right field, Joe Mather in center field, Tyler Greene at shortstop and Daniel Descalso for a second straight day at third base. All are hoping to be a part of the 2011 Cards.
"Colby [Rasmus] is not playing today because he's playing tomorrow -- he could use a day, I think," La Russa said. "And I think when you get a game like today, it's a quick turnaround, fresh blood is good. So you get a new center fielder, a new shortstop and right fielder. I think they'll give a lot of energy.
"You just try to keep it simple. It's about today's game. Try to play the game to help us win. ... That's what each guy who plays has to do. Don't make it more distracting than that."
Lohse looking to finish season strong
PITTSBURGH -- Kyle Lohse took a step back on Wednesday night, as he tries to regain his form following forearm surgery. However, he'll likely have at least one and probably two more chances to end the 2010 season on a high note.
Lohse missed in and out of the strike zone in an 11-6 loss to the Pirates and had his worst start since his first game after the operation.
"I'm trying to finish strong," Lohse said. "I've got, as far as I know, two more starts. And I need to go out there and get things going. I don't care where we're at [in the standings] or whatever. For myself, I need to go out and finish this thing off strong and not have another night like tonight."
It appears that he'll at least have that opportunity.
"We're evaluating," manager Tony La Russa said. "But I think there's a great chance that we'll see him again.
"He just won two games out of his last four. He's proven he can do it. Yesterday he was in the middle of the plate with everything. He's not in a great place confidence-wise, so one struggling game counts more than one good game. But that's part of the big leagues. You can't give in to that stuff."
Cards mixing and matching at catcher
PITTSBURGH -- Matt Pagnozzi made his second straight start for the Cardinals on Thursday, in an early afternoon game following a night game. But manager Tony La Russa was quick to dispute the notion that Pagnozzi is his starter and Bryan Anderson is the backup while Yadier Molina is out with knee trouble.
The manager explained that Pagnozzi started Wednesday night because Kyle Lohse had a rough game with Anderson catching earlier in the year, and then on Thursday because the Pirates pitched a left-hander. Pagnozzi may get the call on Friday again, versus another lefty, but if Molina is still out, Anderson would likely catch on Saturday at Wrigley Field. It's safe to say that for the most part, La Russa values Pagnozzi's superior defense over Anderson's superior bat, but he chafed at the notion that Pagnozzi is clearly ahead of Anderson right now.
"Mix and match," La Russa said. "The last time Lohse pitched with [Anderson], he didn't have a good game. ... Today there's a left-hander. Over the weekend you have a left-hander and a right-hander, and you've got [Adam] Wainwright and [Chris Carpenter]. So I have no problem catching Andy."
La Russa has said that he prefers to match up a rookie catcher with a veteran pitcher -- such as Carpenter or Wainwright -- who can take control of his own game.
Catcher Yadier Molina, who traveled to St. Louis on Wednesday, was to have his troublesome left knee evaluated on Thursday. As of Thursday midday, the club had not heard any updates regarding his condition. ... Entering Thursday's game, Matt Holliday had 216 doubles since the start of the 2006 season. According to STATS Inc., that's the most in the Majors in that span by a healthy margin. Robinson Cano and Nick Markakis were tied for second with 204. ... Colby Rasmus entered Thursday's game with a .365 on-base percentage and a .515 slugging percentage. According to Baseball-Reference.com, if he finishes the season with those numbers, he would be the 13th center fielder in Major League history with that combination or better in his age-23 season or before.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.