(Cardinals Mgr Tony La Russa, pictured, not worried about falling attendance. Says La Russa: “Maybe you oughta worry about it, my friend.”)

It’s no mystery why to this Cub fan, but Cardinal management is just waking up to falling ‘2008 ‘Tard attendance. As Sports Illustrated’s direct access to the AP wire reveals:

“We’ve still sold 3 million tickets, haven’t we?” La Russa said. “The fans are supporting us.”

The team had 161 sellouts the first two seasons at the new park, missing one game in 2006 due to a rainout with the Giants that was not made up, and also sold out the last three games of the final year at old Busch Stadium in 2005.

Wednesday’s attendance was about 4,000 shy of the stadium capacity of 43,975.

The end of the streak coincides with reduced expectations for the Cardinals, who have made the postseason seven of the last nine years. Longtime stars Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen and David Eckstein have departed since the end of last season and top pitchers Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder began the year on the 15-day disabled list while recovering from surgery.

General manager John Mozeliak said poor weather and a depressed economy also have something to do with it.