09/17/11 2:25 AM ET
La Russa laughs off Cubs rumors
By Kevin Roberts / MLB.com
La Russa said he hadn't read the report, said it didn't matter and brushed the whole idea aside.
"What happens to me next year is not a disruption to our club," he said.
Furcal's left knee won't keep him from lineup
PHILADELPHIA -- Rafael Furcal passed his pregame test Friday and took his place in the leadoff spot for the Cardinals, playing shortstop in a 4-2 win over the Phillies. Furcal left Wednesday's game against the Pirates with a left knee strain, suffered while he was attempting to steal second.
After the Cardinals' off-day Thursday, Furcal was listed as day to day, but he was penciled into the lineup Friday. After he worked out during batting practice, Furcal was a go.
"He said he wanted to play," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "We just wanted to see him run."
Furcal went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run against the Phillies on Friday, which raised his average to .250 with six homers and 14 RBIs since the Cardinals acquired him in a trade from the Dodgers on July 31.
Berkman gets start in left with Holliday shelved
PHILADELPHIA -- Matt Holliday is not with the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park, as he remains in St. Louis with an inflammed tendon in his right middle finger.
Manager Tony La Russa said Friday there was no update on Holliday, only that he'd be reevaluated when the team returns home Tuesday. Holliday began the day among the league leaders in average (.295., ranks 16th), on-base percentage (.388, 6th), slugging percentage (.528, 11th) and doubles (35, 7th). But, La Russa noted with a shrug, "the last time we played [the Phillies], we didn't have Albert [Pujols]. No complaints."
Holliday suffered the injury while swinging the bat in the on-deck circle on Tuesday.
Without Holliday, the Cardinals started Lance Berkman in left field Friday and Allen Craig in right. La Russa said the short wall in left at Citizens Bank Park makes for less ground to cover, suiting Berkman's skills. It was Berkman's 13th start of the season in left field.
Cards have turned it around in one-run games
PHILADELPHIA -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa lamented prior to Friday's game that some members of his bullpen had not gotten opportunities to pitch recently because so many of the club's games have been close, and the later innings have all been high-leverage innings.
There simply hasn't been an opportunity to spot some pitchers who could use some work in something other than a white-knuckle situation.
And, indeed, the Cardinals have not won or lost a game by more than four runs in September, and they have played only three such games since Aug. 3. They won a lot of them -- after starting the season 3-9 in one-run games, the Cardinals are now 19-13. They are 19-14 in two-run games.
There is some indication that a team's record in one-run games can vary so much as to appear random, as if it's almost simple luck. The 2003 Detroit Tigers, for example, were one of the worst teams in baseball history -- losing 119 games -- but had a winning record in one-run games. The 1974 Padres were 31-16 in one-run games and 29-86 in all other games. The 1948 Cleveland Indians went 10-20 in one-run games, went 87-38 in all other games and won the AL pennant.
Still, La Russa said, "I think it's an important stat."
"More than anything, it means you have a good bullpen," La Russa said. "Either your starters are getting you deep in the game, or your bullpen is giving you a chance to win."
The Cardinals' bullpen finished the day with a 3.62 ERA this season, eighth in the league, and it ranked 10th in opponents' batting average. Cardinals began the day having allowed 29 percent of inherited runners to score and had retired the first batter they faced 71 percent of the time.
The club retooled its bullpen at the Trade Deadline, acquiring relievers Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski. Jason Motte appears to have settled into the closer's role, though the club hasn't officially anointed him. Motte entered the day having converted seven consecutive save opportunities -- six this month.
Kevin Roberts is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.