The Cardinals begin an important three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds, their closest pursuers in the NL Central, on Monday at Busch Stadium.
Edmonds was 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored in Sunday’s 9-6 win over the Chicago Cubs as St. Louis (35-21) avoided a weekend sweep by its division rival.
Edmonds, who has been bothered by an abdominal injury that sidelined him for a week and threatened to put him on the disabled list, played first base for just the 45th time in his career. He took the place of Pujols, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a strained oblique muscle.
“It’s not rocket science here,” Edmonds said. “The first baseman got hurt and we’re short some guys. I figured if I can go out there and play for a couple of days and get a little bit better as I’m playing, it will be better for us.”
Pujols leads the major leagues in home runs (25) and RBIs (65). While his absence from the lineup is indefinite, his teammates know they don’t have time to start worrying with the Reds (32-24) just three games behind in the NL Central standings.
“Life would be easier with Albert,” said closer Jason Isringhausen, who recorded his NL-leading 18th save in 21 opportunities on Sunday. “But we’ve played without our star players before. We’ll have to weather the storm.”
Despite Edmonds’ successful day, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa remains concerned with keeping the eight-time Gold Glove winner healthy.
“He’s going to have some pain and he may get more pain from playing,” La Russa said. “If it gets too painful to where he can’t function, he doesn’t play, but the injury will not be aggravated.”
The Cardinals will hand the ball to Jeff Suppan (5-4, 5.06 ERA) who remains stuck on 99 career wins after two failed attempts to reach 100. On Wednesday against the Houston Astros, the right-hander pitched six innings, giving up three runs and eight hits. He did not factor in the decision in the Cardinals’ 4-3 win.
Suppan is 2-0 with a 6.69 ERA in six starts against the Reds. Ken Griffey Jr. is hitting .563 against him (9-for-16) with four home runs, 10 RBIs and three walks.
The Reds have won four straight games after a weekend sweep of Houston. Ryan Freel hit his second homer of the game, a two run shot in the 11th inning, to lift Cincinnati to a 6-4 victory on Sunday.
Brandon Claussen (3-6, 5.40), who has lost his last two starts, looks to extend the team’s winning streak. The left-hander lasted just five innings in his last start on Tuesday against the Cubs, giving up five runs—four earned— and six hits in an 8-3 defeat interrupted by a rain delay.
“I thought Brandon Claussen was throwing real well,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said. “He was throwing as well as he’s thrown all year. Just an hour delay, and he didn’t respond real well to it.”
Claussen is 1-3 with a 5.67 ERA in six starts against the Cardinals.