While many others have contributed, there can be little mistaking the effect that Matt Holliday's return has had on the Cardinals' offense.
In the seven games Holliday missed after undergoing an appendectomy, the Cardinals scored 18 runs. In the five games since he's been back, they're scored 46 runs.
For the fourth straight night Thursday, the Cardinals had at least 14 hits and scored at least eight runs. Holliday was the ringleader of a 9-5 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers with three hits and three RBI.
At 6-7, the Cardinals are as close to .500 as they've been this season, and they are 4-3 on their 10-game West Coast trip.
Of note was that the Cardinals had five players with at least two hits, as every starter hit safely, as did pinch hitter Allen Craig. Quietly establishing himself as the Cardinals' No. 2 hitter is Colby Rasmus, who had his eighth multi-hit game with a triple and a single.
The Cardinals did much of
their damage against
"We were just trying to hit the ball hard through the middle against him," Holliday said. "We did a better job of getting better pitches to hit than we usually do against him."
LHP Jaime Garcia was not as efficient Thursday as he had been in his first two starts, during which he gave up just one run in 15 innings. Garcia didn't have his best stuff, but he lasted five innings for his second win, giving up two earned runs. Garcia struck out only two after getting nine strikeouts in each of his first two starts. He was making his first start in Dodger Stadium, and manager Tony La Russa said, "He was a little excited, maybe a little too strong early." Garcia was briefly bothered by what he thought was a nerve issue with his left foot, but he said the discomfort went away after a few minutes.
RHP Mitchell Boggs continued to dominate. The hard-throwing Boggs, who fanned three hitters in one inning in his previous appearance, whiffed three in two hitless innings Thursday. "The last two times out, he's got everything under control," manager Tony La Russa said.
C Yadier Molina, whose average had dipped to .152, appeared to profit from a "mental health day" given him by manager Tony La Russa on Wednesday. Molina, who didn't appear in Wednesday's game, delivered two run-scoring hits Thursday.
1B Albert Pujols' hitting streak is at a modest four after he lined his second homer of the season just over the left field wall. In the streak, he is 7-for-18 (.389).
SS Ryan Theriot, who hit under .200 in spring training and started the season in similar fashion, has cobbled together a six-game hitting streak in which he has gone 12-for-27 (.444), with five of the games multi-hit games.
RF Jon Jay, who stayed in the game after pinch-hitting in the eighth inning, made the defensive play of the game in the bottom of the eighth. He dived to take an extra-base hit away from 3B Casey Blake when the Dodgers were threatening to get back into the game. Earlier, Theriot threw out a runner at the plate on a slow roller, and RF Lance Berkman saved a run by cutting off a ball before it got to the wall.
BY THE NUMBERS: 63 - Hits by the Cardinals in their last four games, three of them victories.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We do have a deep lineup. We have a bunch of guys who take serious at-bats."
- Manager Tony La Russa, as the Cardinals continue to hit and score runs.
LHP Bryan Tallet (fractured right hand) went on 15-day disabled list April 13.
RHP Bryan Augenstein (strained right groin) went on the 15-day disabled list April 13.
INF Nick Punto (hernia surgery in February 2011) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He hopes to return in late April.
RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He will miss the entire 2011 season.