Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards on Short End of Long Ball

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards on Short End of Long Ball

Article excerpt

Sixteen starts, 16 homers allowed.

Those statistics belong to Cardinals righthander Todd Stottlemyre, who is 6-6 after giving up two more home runs in a 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.

Manager Tony La Russa said Stottlemyre's home-run yield "doesn't reflect the kind of stuff he has or how well he's pitched, but that's too many to give up."

Stottlemyre's home-run figures are reflective of a Cardinals staff that has allowed 28 more homers (89-61) than the Cardinals have mustered. This imbalance is particularly glaring on the road, where the Cardinals have been outhomered 53-36.

Pitching coach Dave Duncan, like La Russa, is upset with that differential. "We've given up way too many home runs," he said. "As a staff you give up home runs generally because you're trying to be aggressive.

"The unfortunate part is that sometimes when you try to be aggressive, you get the ball in the upper part of the strike zone. Right now, that seems to be a dangerous place to pitch."

In his six losses, Stottlemyre has given up 10 homers. In his six wins, he has given up just three, with three coming in a no-decision. But, his home runs allowed Tuesday night were bases-empty homers, with the other two runs scoring in the fourth inning, thanks to two Cardinals errors - one by Stottlemyre.

Marquis Grissom and Chipper Jones homered for Atlanta, offsetting an eighth-inning homer by John Mabry of the Cardinals. The Cardinals erased most of a 4-0 deficit before Mark Wohlers closed them down in the ninth for his 15th save in 16 opportunities.

Wohlers fanned Luis Alicea with the tying run at third in the eighth and then struck out two more in the ninth, pitching around a one-out double by Ron Gant. In six innings against the Cardinals this season, Wo hlers has fanned 11.

"He has a lot of ways to get a guy out," La Russa said. "But we had a shot."

Almost identical to the previous night, the leadoff hitter homered. But, instead of the Cardinals' Gant on the first pitch, it was Atlanta's Grissom on an 0-1 Stottlemyre offering.

Grissom has led off four games with homers this season, two of them off Stottlemyre. Stottlemyre, at that point, had given up four homers in his past six innings.

He said the home-run total, per se, doesn't concern him. "What concerns me is the balls they're hitting out of the ballpark are balls I'm making mistakes on," he said. "I'm leaving too many balls up in the strike zone."

Stottlemyre set down nine of the next 10 batters after Grissom's homer, walking one. But Jones smacked his 15th homer and fifth in the past seven games to open the fourth.

Then Stottlemyre tried to make something out of nothing. Instead of just picking up Fred McGriff's tapper and hanging on to it, Stottlemyre, off balance, winged a throw well over the head of first baseman Mabry. …

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