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Cardinals beat 9/8

September 8, 2010

Pagnozzi making first career start for Cards

MILWAUKEE — After being recalled from Triple-A Memphis a week ago, catcher Matt Pagnozzi got his first Major League start behind the plate on Wednesday against the Brewers.

“Pagnozzi knows [Jaime] Garcia, so that helps,” said manager Tony La Russa.

Pagnozzi, who is a nephew of former Cardinals Gold Glover Tom Pagnozzi, has spent each of the past two seasons with the Memphis Redbirds before being called up in September. In 2009, each of the final five games of the season saw Pagnozzi enter in the late innings.

In those five games, Pagnozzi did not record a hit in three at-bats, while walking once and reaching base on an error. In the season’s final game, Pagnozzi scored a run in the Cardinals’ 9-7 loss to the Brewers at Busch Stadium.

Pagnozzi recorded his first big league hit during the fifth inning on Wednesday.

In 68 games for Memphis this season, Pagnozzi batted .242 with a .338 on-base percentage and a .309 slugging percentage with one home run and 21 RBIs.

Not known for his offense, Pagnozzi is a better defensive catcher than fellow rookie Bryan Anderson. With better offensive numbers and improved defense, Anderson overtook Pagnozzi as the Cardinals’ top backup catcher.

“[Pagnozzi] knows the idea about working a pitcher [and has] a strong throwing arm,” La Russa said. “But that’s a good testament to Andy that Andy moved ahead of him because of the kind of year he had.”

La Russa’s lineup leans right vs. Capuano

MILWAUKEE — With left-handed starter Chris Capuano on the mound on Wednesday for the Brewers, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa went with a mostly right-handed lineup. The only left-handed hitters were Colby Rasmus and starting pitcher Jaime Garcia.

Included in it was Tyler Greene, who started at second base for the first time since July 3 and batted leadoff for the first time since May 4. The move was particularly interesting considering switch-hitter Felipe Lopez has a career .462 average against Capuano with one home run and two walks.

Greene, on the other hand, has never faced Capuano.

The decision came down to Lopez’s recent struggles outweighing past success against Capuano. In his past 75 at-bats, Lopez has recorded just eight hits.

On the season, Capuano has held lefties to a .220 batting average while right-handed hitters have posted a .290 mark against him. With Capuano’s splits and Lopez’s past numbers in mind, did La Russa consider starting his struggling second baseman?

“Yeah,” La Russa said. “[But] he’s just not himself at the plate.”

Anniversary of McGwire passing Maris

MILWAUKEE — It may be hard to believe, but Wednesday marked the 12th anniversary of Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire breaking Roger Maris’ home run record with homer No. 62 on Sept. 8, 1998.

With two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, McGwire blasted the first pitch he saw from Cubs starter Steve Traschel out to left field, where it barely cleared the fence. All that mattered was that it went out, though, as the homer sparked a memorable on-field celebration.

McGwire’s blast broke Roger Maris’ single-season record of 61 home runs, which had stood since the 1961 season. Over the final 18 games of the 1998 season, McGwire added eight more home runs, finishing with a then-record 70 homers.

In the 12 years since that thrilling season, McGwire has seen his record broken by Barry Bonds in 2001, admitted to steroid use during his career and assumed the role of hitting coach at the start of this season.

“I hadn’t thought about that,” said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa of how long it had been since McGwire’s record-breaking homer. “That’s a fast 12 years.”

Worth noting

Left-handed reliever Trever Miller underwent an MRI scan in St. Louis on Wednesday, which revealed a forearm strain. He is considered day-to-day. … Third baseman David Freese underwent a procedure today in Colorado for a debridement of his left ankle. He will begin therapy this week.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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