Chris Carpenter: No excuses for kicking

ST. LOUIS -- Chris Carpenter had little to say about his fine for his part in a brawl between the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds.

He did have had more angry words for Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto, who kicked several St. Louis players and gave Jason LaRue a slight concussion. LaRue was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday, retroactive to Aug. 4, and the team recalled outfielder Nick Stavinoha from Triple-A Memphis.

Carpenter said Friday, the day after penalties were assessed by Major League Baseball, that Cueto was the only player trying to hurt anyone. Carpenter said anyone who used such tactics on the street would be dealt with harshly.

"All the yelling, the talking, the pushing, the fighting and everything else, there was nobody throwing punches, there was nobody doing that stuff," Carpenter said. "I don't care how scared you are or what the deal is. Whatever excuse you have, you don't start doing that."

Carpenter was in the middle of the fracas and said he was just as scared as Cueto was.

"He can say whatever he wants," the pitcher said. "He came in there with intent to do something from the back side."

Carpenter was fined after his yelling match with Reds manager Dusty Baker led to what he called a "melee." He said the worst part of the aftermath wasn't the scratches on his back or neck from where Cincinnati's Scott Rolen grabbed him in an apparent peacemaking move but having to answer to his 7-year-old son.

"Dusty had something to say, I had something to say, and the next thing you know all hell broke loose," Carpenter said "I come home and try to explain to my son why is Scott Rolen attacking me? Why is everybody pushing you into the net?"

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was set to serve the first game of a two-game suspension in the opener of a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs. La Russa, who was in uniform before the game, wasn't sure where he'd be watching the game because general manager John Mozeliak's suite would be filled with fans in a fundraising effort for the manager's Animal Rescue Foundation.

Bench coach Joe Pettini technically was in charge but not before La Russa presented an identical lineup for the fourth straight game, the first time that's happened in his 15 seasons in St. Louis. The Cardinals faced a fourth straight right-hander, plus they're coming off a three-game sweep of Cincinnati that propelled them into first place in the NL Central.

Cueto was suspended for seven games. Baker was also suspended for two games and both he and La Russa were fined. Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and two other Reds players, second baseman Brandon Phillips and reliever Russ Springer, were also fined.

"It's unfortunate, it didn't have to go where it went," Carpenter said. "I guarantee you they would say the same thing, that we could take it back. But we can't. It's a bad thing for baseball."

LaRue said he felt better but still had concussion-related symptoms.

"Fuzzy is probably the easiest way to say it," LaRue said. "You have black spots and stuff like that. Obviously I'm day to day and tomorrow can change 100 percent, and it may not."

The Cardinals also confirmed right-hander Kyle Lohse, out since undergoing forearm surgery in late May, would return to the rotation on Sunday. Lohse will start in place of rookie Jaime Garcia, who will get two extra days of rest and pitch Tuesday against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The team is closely watching Garcia's innings coming off an abbreviated 2009 following reconstructive elbow surgery, but La Russa said he'll take advantage of a stretch of three days off in eight days to give the entire rotation extra time off.

"Give everyone a little mental and physical break," La Russa said.

Lohse was impressive in his fourth rehab start, striking out nine and allowing a run in seven innings for Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday. The first three appearances, he allowed nine earned runs in 12 innings and was coming off a five-inning stint for Double-A Springfield during which he permitted five runs and 12 hits in five innings.

"I knew I had to put up zeros and didn't just have to prove myself healthy and get my pitch count up," Lohse said. "It was a different approach from the one before, where I was just working on stuff.

"I'll definitely be excited to go out there again, it's kind of like starting the season over," he said.