Cardinals Major League Notebook: 05/06/11

Lance Berkman has been the surprising early-season leader of the St. Louis Cardinals offense.



The resurrection of Lance Berkman continues. Limited to 14 home runs and 58 runs batted last season with Houston and the New York Yankees when he never really overcame spring training knee surgery, Berkman might reach those totals by the end of May.

His three-run, game-winning home run Thursday in a 6-3 victory over Florida gave him 10 home runs and a National League-leading 32 runs batted in to go with a .392 average.

"It's been a good run," said Berkman, who hit the first pitch he saw from Florida left-hander Mike Dunn, who had allowed only three hits in 36 opponents' at-bats this year.

"A pitcher's mentality is to get ahead. My mentality is to not to let him get ahead."

The switch-hitting Berkman's home run was his second in 24 at-bats right-handed. He had one right-handed in 84 at-bats last year.

Dunn had just entered the game to force Berkman to hit from his weaker side. But manager Tony La Russa said, "(Berkman) is really swinging well against left-handed pitching now, I think as the season goes on, they're going to be more concerned about making that move. He's got a nice stroke both ways now."


Thursday's victory gave the Cardinals a four-game split with Florida. They had won their previous six series.

RHP Jake Westbrook had a strong game, striking out eight and walking none in 6 1/3 innings, although he left with the Cardinals trailing. After allowing 57 baserunners in his first 30 1/3 innings, Westbrook pitched perfect ball for the first 4 2/3 innings before the Marlins bunched four singles for two runs in the fifth.

LF Matt Holliday said he still has a cramp in his left side after undergoing an appendectomy early in April. But he is batting .402 in that time. After singling home two runs Thursday, Holliday is riding an 11-game hitting streak in which he has batted .422. He is hitting .500 (15-for-30) for the season with men in scoring position. His average has been so high for so long that he improved his overall mark by only five points to .417 during his streak. "He'll be strong all the way into Halloween and I hope that's how long we're playing," manager Tony La Russa said.

3B David Freese will have a removable cast put on his broken left hand on Friday. Freese, who had surgery on Tuesday, will be able do most of his conditioning work while he is out, although that might be eight weeks or longer.

1B Albert Pujols, after his average dipped to .231, has rebounded with four singles in the last two days, including three on Thursday, and is up to .252. He had his second three-hit game of the season.

RHP Eduardo Sanchez was sent out for the third game in a row. After suffering the loss when he allowed a two-run home run in the ninth inning on Wednesday, the rookie, trying to work the corners, threw six straight balls to the first two hitters he faced on Thursday. But, after a visit from pitching coach Dave Duncan and a translation from Pujols, both of whom instructed Sanchez to go after the hitter, he coaxed a double-play grounder from Florida RF Mike Stanton, who had hit the 431-foot, game-winning home run on Wednesday. "(Sanchez) has got a real chance," manager Tony La Russa said.

BY THE NUMBERS: 200 - Number of career big-league starts by RHP Jake Westbrook, who made his 200th on Thursday.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's a sandbagger. He limps around like he's old, and then you see him run and hit."

- LF Matt Holliday, on rejuvenated RF Lance Berkman.



3B David Freese (broken left hand) went on the 15-day disabled list May 2. He will have surgery May 3, and he is expected to be out until mid- to late July. Freese was scheduled to have a removable cast put on his broken left hand on May 6.

2B Skip Schumaker (strained right triceps) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 16. He hopes to return in May.

LHP Brian Tallet (fractured right hand) went on 15-day disabled list April 13. He was throwing but not catching in early May, and the timetable for his return was uncertain.

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., May 6 vs. BREWERS: Jaime Garcia (3-0, 2.48) vs. Randy Wolf (3-2, 2.39) 7:15 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).

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