Perhaps all center fielder Colby Rasmus needed was a day off. Saddled with a nothing-for-20 and 1-for-28 nosedive that included nine strikeouts, Rasmus got a breather during the off day Thursday and then had a four-hit game Friday night, tying his career high.
Two of the hits were
triples, good for three runs batted in, as the Cardinals piled up a season-high
19 hits against struggling
Rasmus, making an adjustment in his approach, said, "I was taking my hands back as far as I could. Just try to mash the baseball and don't try to think about too much. Get a pitch to hit and put a good whack on it."
Right-hander Jake Westbrook got 11 groundball outs but had to work hard early in the game and came out of the game for bullpen help after the fifth. Westbrook, winning his third straight and hiking his record to 5-3, got four hitless innings from the bullpen and finished with two hitless innings.
The Cardinals' lead in the National League Central is a season-high 3 1/2 games as they reached the 10-over-.500 mark for the second time at 31-21. Since May 16, the Cardinals have won nine of 11 games, and no starting pitcher has given up more than three runs.
NOTES AND QUOTES
LF Matt Holliday, battling a strained quadriceps, appeared for the first time since Sunday. Manager Tony La Russa, anticipating that Holliday might receive an intentional walk, pinch-hit Holliday with a runner at second and one out in the sixth inning and, indeed, Holliday was walked intentionally. His pinch runner, RHP Kyle Lohse, scored one of the Cardinals' three runs in the inning as they snapped a 3-3 tie.
LHP Brian Tallet, who had just returned after missing more than a month with a fractured right hand, had to exit the game in the eighth inning, unable to finish pitching to even one hitter. Tallet had forearm/elbow tightness, but it doesn't appear to be serious.
LF Jon Jay extended his hitting streak to seven games with a double and a single. Jay, who has filled in at all three outfield positions recently because of various injuries to regulars, is 13-for-32 (.406) in the streak.
A third-inning trip to
the mound by veteran pitching coach Dave Duncan may have been the key to the
C Yadier Molina suffered a slight foot injury in running out a ninth-inning double and came out of the game for a pinch runner. He is expected to handle LHP Jaime Garcia on Saturday, though, because Molina always catches Garcia, who is 5-0.
BY THE NUMBERS: 79-79 - Cardinals' record against
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're all of the same school of thought here. Missing a couple days or pinch-hitting for a couple days is safer than doing something I'm not ready for and missing six weeks or whatever it would be."
- LF Matt Holliday, on taking it easy with his strained left quadriceps.
LHP Brian Tallet (left elbow) left the game while pitching to his first hitter May 27, but it wasn't believed to be a serious problem.
C Yadier Molina (foot) was injured May 27 and came out of the game, but it did not appear to be serious.
LF Matt Holliday (tight left quadriceps) left the May 22 game and did not play May 23-25. He was used as a pinch hitter May 27.
C Gerald Laird (broken right index finger) was injured May 22. He was placed on the disabled list May 23 and will be out until July.
INF Nick Punto (right forearm flexor strain) went on the 15-day disabled list May 18.
3B David Freese (broken left hand) went on the 15-day disabled list May 2. He had surgery May 3, and he is expected to be out until mid- to late July.
RHP Bryan Augenstein (strained right groin) went on the 15-day disabled list April 13. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 16.
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.
Sat., May 28 at