ST. LOUIS -- Ross Ohlendorf's worst outing of the season basically could be distilled into his worst inning of the season.
His four-run fifth inning equaled the most earned runs he has permitted in any of his previous five games this season.
In short, Ohlendorf (3-3) to date has solidified the staff front four. He has joined ace Paul Maholm (3-0) and Zach Duke (3-3) among the winningest starters in the Pirates' rotation. His 4.14 ERA ranks third among the five starters as well, though he started yesterday with an even more respectable 3.48 figure. His string of three consecutive victories, though, came to an end.
"He was throwing the ball real well," Pirates manager John Russell said after this 5-2 loss to St. Louis. He referred in particular to the fourth inning, when Ohlendorf struck out Ryan Ludwick and Chris Duncan and, after an Andy LaRoche throw that backup first baseman Eric Hinske failed to snag, induced a Joe Thurston groundout. "That one inning, it got away from him. His tempo got off whack."
"I kind of lost it a little bit," admitted Ohlendorf.
After a leadoff home run by Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue on a low fastball, Ohlendorf allowed a single to right and a bunt single, hit Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick (on a 3-2 count) back to back, then yielded more runs on a Chris Duncan sacrifice fly and a Khalil Greene single over a leaping LaRoche. By the time the fifth was over, he had given up four runs on just three pitches hit with authority.
Ohlendorf is scheduled to face the Cardinals in his next outing, Wednesday at PNC Park. He already is 0-2 against them, having lost in the opening week at Busch Stadium.
"To this point," Russell said, "Ross has thrown the ball very well for us. You have to remember, he's still relatively young , as far as a starting pitcher. He's going to have moments like that throughout the season. Hopefully, we can minimize that."
"I've been happy with how I pitched," Ohlendorf said. "Even today, I felt good, other than the one inning."
• Matt Capps played catch without any problems to his bruised bone in his right, pitching elbow. He is scheduled to pitch off a mound today in New York's Citi Field.
• Catcher Ryan Doumit is wearing a removable splint, allowing him to work out freely, after having the stitches removed from his surgically repaired right wrist.
• Tests of pitcher Craig Hansen's neck and scapula troubles indicated no serious problems, and he also is set to rejoin the team in New York.
• Is it written somewhere that both LaRoches cannot surge at the same time? While Andy has gone 21 for 68 (.308) in the past 20 games, elder brother Adam has seen his batting average dip from .304 to .240, going 0 for 12 since a home run Monday and 1 for 17 since Saturday. He was rested yesterday.
• Russell on Delwyn Young at second base: "I think he did well. Nice pivot. Good feed. I thought he looked comfortable out there."