Perez impressive for Redbirds

ST. LOUIS -- From the looks of it, Chris Perez was unfazed by his demotion to Triple-A Memphis.

In his 2009 regular-season debut with the Redbirds, Perez turned in two effective and efficient innings, earning the win in relief as Memphis beat Oklahoma City, 4-3, in 10 innings on Thursday. Perez did not allow a run or a hit, striking out two and walking one. He needed only 23 pitches to get six outs.

Perez competed for ninth-inning duties during Spring Training, but was set back when he missed two weeks due to shoulder discomfort. He was sent out when the Cardinals instead chose to take long reliever Brad Thompson rather than a late-inning, short man in Perez.

"I think the idea is to let him pitch and let us play," manager Tony La Russa said. "There's no timetable, [where you say] 'Well, if he has three great outings, we'll see him.' You don't have that kind of crystal ball. I'm just pleased that he got off to a good start. Let him keep cranking, and stuff will take care of itself."

Cardinals Minor League affiliates went 3-1 in their season openers on Thursday, with only Class A Quad Cities losing. Other system stars included 2008 first-round Draft pick Brett Wallace, who went 4-for-5 with two home runs for Double-A Springfield, and reliever Ryan Kulik. The left-hander struck out five over two scoreless innings, picking up the win in reliefs.