La Russa fumes after being asked about punchless Cardinals

Allen Craig of the Cardinals slides into second while Pirates shortstop Josh Rodriguez waits for the ball during the fourth innng of Wednesday afternoon’s game at Busch Stadium.

Allen Craig of the Cardinals slides into second while Pirates shortstop Josh Rodriguez waits for the ball during the fourth innng of Wednesday afternoon’s game at Busch Stadium. Photo by The Associated Press.

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 clocked in at 50 seconds by appealing to viewers 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 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.”

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 attention on the field, but kept catching after getting struck on the side of the head by Molina’s follow-through swing in the seventh.

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