ST. LOUIS (AP) - Tired of fielding questions about a punchless lineup, Tony La Russa went on the attack.
The St. Louis manager cut short his televised postgame news conference and stalked off the podium after Cardinals hitters failed once again Wednesday in a 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Face red and arms gesturing, La Russa said it was unfair to compare this season's start to last year's second-half woes.
La Russa took a long pause after a question about the team's offseason efforts to improve the lineup. He then went on a closing rant that clocked in at 50 seconds by appealing to viewers that it's way too early to be drawing any conclusions.
``For everybody listening out there, do you think I'm being unreasonable? It's the first week of the season,' La Russa said. ``I don't understand this.'
Then, La Russa went down a lineup card that's fizzled thus far, with David Freese (.125), Yadier Molina (.167), Ryan Theriot (.182), Albert Pujols (.182) and Skip Schumaker (.167) all below .200.
``Now you're going tell me that Yadier doesn't drive in big runs? Are you going to tell me Albert can't hit? Are you going to tell the second baseman and shortstops haven't hit? David Freese, you don't think he's going to hit? You think Matt's (Holliday) going to hit? You think Colby's (Rasmus) going to hit? You think (Lance) Berkman's going to hit?'
``The answer's no to all those things? I mean, did you accomplish your goal?' La Russa said to media members. ``Three or four times you ask, so I get excited, get upset? I mean that's not fair, that really isn't.'
Players took the stuttering start in stride.
``Nobody's up there just flaying away,' Berkman said. ``We're just not getting it done. Guys aren't off to a great start up and down the lineup.'
Berkman added, ``I can guarantee you Albert's not going to hit under .200. If anybody wants to lay a bet on that, I'll take it right now.'
Kevin Correia and two relievers combined to slow St. Louis and Neil Walker hit his second home run for Pittsburgh.
The Pirates won their second road series of the season, now having taken two of three from St. Louis and the Chicago Cubs. Last year, Pittsburgh was a majors-worst 17-64 on the road on the way to a 57-105 record overall.
Ryan Doumit drove in his first run of the year and Lyle Overbay had two hits and an RBI for the Pirates, who won consecutive road series for the first time since Aug. 20-26, 2007, at Colorado and Houston.
Chris Carpenter (0-1) allowed one earned run in six innings but left trailing 2-0 and lost to the Pirates for only the second time in 13 career decisions. He gave up eight hits, and at least one every inning.
Carpenter worked allowed two runs in seven innings in the opener and go no decision. He said there was no frustration.
``No, I'm going out to do my job. If I continue to go out and do the things I need to do and stay consistent, I think I'm going to be OK,' Carpenter said.
Schumaker had two hits for St. Louis, which totaled 15 runs in an opening 2-4 homestand. Holliday missed the last five while recuperating from an appendectomy and is expected to rejoin the lineup during a 10-game West Coast trip that starts Friday.
``There's no timetable, he's just doing things as he tolerates,' La Russa said. ``Do a little more all the time.'
Correia (2-0) allowed five hits in seven innings, Evan Meek bounced back from a pair of shaky outings with a perfect eighth against the top of the lineup and Joel Hanrahan allowed Molina's two-out RBI double in the ninth before finishing for his fourth save in four chances.
Only three Cardinals reached scoring position against Correia, who joined the Pirates as a free agent in the offseason. Correia, who was a 24th-round draft pick by St. Louis in 2001 but did not sign, is 2-2 against the Cardinals.
Pirates starters have a 2.52 ERA heading into their home opener Thursday against the Colorado Rockies, who were managed to the 2007 World Series by Clint Hurdle. Colorado is now managed by Jim Tracy, who was the Pirates manager in 2007.
The Pirates won despite going 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position and stranding a season-high 11 runners.
Pujols went far to his right and sprawled to snare Overbay's infield hit, but then made an awkward flip to first for an error that led to an unearned run in the fourth. Overbay went to second on the off-target throw and scored on Doumit's double.
Walker hit a grand slam in the opener and entered the game leading the NL with seven RBIs. He homered just inside the foul pole in right with one out in the fifth to make it 2-0.
``Walker hit a good pitch for the home run,' Carpenter said. ``I made my pitch and he hit it out, he's a good little player.'
NOTES: Carpenter reached 1,500 career strikeouts against Josh Rodriguez to end the second. ... Pujols has 994 assists at 1B, third among active players. ... Doumit received medical attention on the field but kept catching after getting struck on the side of the head by Molina's follow-throw swing in the seventh. ... The Cardinals had two nice defensive plays to end the third, with 2B Schumaker diving to his left to rob Walker and 3B Daniel Descalso diving right to deny McCutchen.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved