Cardinals Major League Notebook: 04/29/11

Lance Berkman capped off his Houston homecoming with a huge offensive game Thursday night.



The easy-to-identify hero for the Cardinals on Thursday night in Houston was former Astros star Lance Berkman

After getting two hits in each of his first two games back at Minute Maid Park, the right fielder put together his seventh consecutive multi-hit game in spectacular fashion, homering twice, doubling and singling in St. Louis' 11-7 win

The switch-hitting Berkman's first homer of the night -- and his first struck right-handed this season -- put the Cardinals ahead to stay, 5-4, in the sixth inning That inning became a nine-run frame with Berkman, David Freese, Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday each getting two hits

The bullpen, used often in the three-game series, got enough outs to nail down the win that gave the Cardinals their sixth straight series victory after they had lost their first two series of the season

The winning pitcher was right-hander Kyle McClellan (4-0), who had his least efficient start of the season But manager Tony La Russa, hoping that McClellan, who had a low pitch count, could give him one more inning, allowed McClellan to hit with runners at first and third and one out in the sixth The Cardinals led just 5-4 at the time

After narrowly missing plating a run with a suicide squeeze bunt that rolled foul, then missing by a few feet on an extra-base bid to right, McClellan singled up the middle to make it 6-4 Before the inning was over, Freese, Holliday and Berkman also had delivered RBI singles, with Holliday's second hit of the inning scoring two runs And, suddenly, it was 10-4 after the Cardinals had trailed 4-1

Right-hander Fernando Salas became the third Cardinals pitcher in the last 10 days to record his first big-league save

Oddly, Salas got out of a bases-loaded spot in the eighth inning by throwing his first pitch into the dirt, with catcher Gerald Laird sliding to try to control the ball, which rolled a few feet away Astros right fielder Hunter Pence foolishly tried to score, standing up as it turned out Pence hesitated as he got to the plate, trying to steer clear of Salas, who was running to cover home, and also trying to avoid sliding into Laird's mask, which had been tossed atop the plate Laird, rushing back to the plate, decided to make the play himself, diving to tag Pence on the leg for the final out

"It kind of surprised me (that Pence tried to score)," Laird said "(The ball) didn't kick that far off I just wanted to make sure I took my time and jumped in front of the plate "

Manager Tony La Russa said, "Gerald just bounced on it and dove right into the spikes You've got to admire everything about it "

Salas had a rocky ninth, too, as right-hander Mitchell Boggs, who had three recent saves before blowing one in a long inning Tuesday, was given another night off to rest his arm But the Cardinals finally had their win when second baseman Tyler Greene made a diving stop to take a hit away from Michael Bourn with two runners on to end the game

Berkman and the Cardinals left town, gratefully They blew the first game and hung on to win the last two, as Berkman completed an 8-for-14 series in a park he called home for most of his career and a city where he still lives


RF Lance Berkman had his 12th multi-hit game of the season and third multi-homer game of the year "What a day he had What a month he's had," manager Tony La Russa said "And he's really done it from both sides of the plate " Berkman became the first Cardinal to homer from both sides of the plate in a single game since 2B Geronimo Pena in 1994

OF Allen Craig, eligible to come off the disabled list Monday, will test his injured groin on a rehabilitation assignment beginning Friday at Class AA Springfield Craig has been sidelined since April 17

SS Ryan Theriot, who missed three starts with a right rib-cage strain, finished the game on defense He should start at shortstop in Atlanta on Friday

3B David Freese, hitting second instead of CF Colby Rasmus for the second straight game, went 5-for-9 in the two games, including stroking three singles Thursday

RHP Chris Carpenter (0-2), the only winless starter for the Cardinals although he has given up two runs or fewer in four of his five starts, will seek his first win Friday night at Atlanta

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 - Cardinals batters who had two hits in a 10-hit, nine-run sixth inning Thursday at Houston

QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's about as nerve-wracking a three-game series as you could have in the regular season "

- RF Lance Berkman, upon returning to Houston's Minute Maid Park, where he went 8-for-14 with two homers and six RBI



SS Ryan Theriot (sore rib cage) was a late scratch April 26, and he didn't play April 27 He appeared as a defensive replacement April 28, and he is likely to start April 29

2B Skip Schumaker (strained right triceps) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 16 Schumaker might be out three to six weeks in total

OF Allen Craig (left groin strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 17 He will begin a rehab assignment with Class AA Springfield on April 29

LHP Bryan Tallet (fractured right hand) went on 15-day disabled list April 13 He had screws inserted in his hand He was scheduled to throw side sessions every other day in late April Tallet, who is scheduled to have stitches removed from his hand May 1, hopes to return in early May

RHP Bryan Augenstein (strained right groin) went on the 15-day disabled list April 13

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



Fri , Apr 29 at BRAVES: Chris Carpenter (0-2, 3 90) vs Tim Hudson (3-2, 3 57) 6:35 p m CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network)

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