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Ludwick trying to get back on track

Ludwick trying to get back on track

ST. LOUIS -- After making the National League All-Star team for the first time in his career in 2008, Cardinals outfielder Ryan Ludwick opened the '09 season right where he left off.

The right fielder hit .274 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs in his first 30 games of the season as he set out to prove that his '08 breakout of 37 home runs and 113 RBIs was no fluke.

But Ludwick's momentum was stalled on May 12, when he injured his hamstring and was placed on the disabled list. He chose not to go on a rehab assignment when he returned two weeks later and has been anything but the feared hitter that he was when he got hurt.

In 31 games since returning, Ludwick is hitting just .188 with three home runs and 12 RBIs.

"You just try to stay positive," Ludwick said. "It's just the way it goes sometimes. You have to keep your head up and keep working at it and hopefully things will start rolling here soon rather than later. It's been a tough go. But I definitely want to help the team out. That's my job, to be part of this team and help the team out.

"Unfortunately, right now, I haven't done much, but you have to keep throwing it in the basket. Tomorrow is a new day and [I have to just] come out with a positive mind frame and continue to work. For me, personally, things are going to turn around, and you have to keep that positive attitude, and that's what I'm trying to do."

Ludwick has shown signs of breaking out of his month-long slump in the past few games. He went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored on Sunday against the Twins and hit two balls hard that were caught on Monday. He also doubled and tripled on Tuesday against the Giants, a welcomed sight to the struggling Cardinals offense.

"I think it goes beyond the last [few] games," said manager Tony La Russa. "It's not just because you have something to show for it. He's been looking better and better. I think I said it a few days ago, I think he's really close."

Ludwick and the rest of the Cardinals hope so.

Pitching matchup
STL: RHP Adam Wainwright (8-5, 3.51 ERA)
Wainwright has settled into something of a pattern this season. He hasn't been efficient, getting into trouble far too often and running up high pitch counts. But he's shown an ability to limit the damage, locking down with men on base. It's added up to a lot of good but not great starts. The problem is that Wainwright and the team expect closer to great from Wainwright, who was the Opening Day starter at Busch Stadium.

SF: RHP Matt Cain (9-2, 2.57 ERA)
Cain allowed five runs, matching his season-worst, in Friday's 5-1 loss at Milwaukee. But he still managed to look mostly effective, allowing six hits in seven innings and striking out nine. The decision ended his personal seven-game winning streak over a span of nine starts. Cain, who appears bound for the National League All-Star squad, has worked at least six innings in every start and has recorded 10 quality starts in 15 outings. He's living up to his workhorse reputation by averaging 105 pitches per game.

Tidbits
The Cardinals' 10-0 loss to the Giants on Monday night came five days after they lost 11-0 to the New York Mets. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the first time in Cardinals history that the team has suffered two double-digit losses in less than a week. ... Albert Pujols became just the seventh player in history to record 30 home runs before July 1 on Tuesday. ... The Cardinals are only three games above .500 for the first time since they were 31-28 on June 9.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FS-M HD, ESPN

On radio
• KTRS 550

Up next
• Thursday: Cardinals (Todd Wellemeyer, 6-7, 5.68) vs. Giants (Barry Zito, 4-7, 4.55), 6:15 p.m. CT
• Friday: Cardinals (Joel Pineiro, 6-9, 3.44) at Reds (Homer Bailey, 1-0, 8.68), 6:10 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Cardinals (Brad Thompson, 2-4, 4.69) at Reds (Micah Owings, 5-8, 4.63), 12:10 p.m. CT

B.J. Rains is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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