It would have made a better story if left fielder Matt Holliday had found out just before game time Tuesday that he had been selected to represent the National League in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby next week. That's when the announcement was made, and then Holliday seemingly vindicated that choice by rapping two homers, good for four runs batted in, to key an 8-1 Cardinals romp past Cincinnati.
"No correlation, I wouldn't think," said Holliday. "I knew a couple of days ago."
Lance Berkman, who leads
the league in homers with 23 but was not selected for the
Berkman's homer was the 350th of his career, tying him for fourth among switch hitters with Chili Davis. Berkman will not catch Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray and Chipper Jones, who are well ahead of him.
Holliday's second homer was a three-run shot off Volquez in the fifth. He has 12 homers for the season. Manager Tony La Russa was impressed that both Holliday and Berkman could connect against Volquez in the twilight in the first inning.
"That time of night is not easy," said La Russa.
But La Russa doesn't call Holliday or Berkman -- or even Albert Pujols -- "home run hitters."
"These guys are plus-.300 hitters that square the ball up a lot," said La Russa. "They're not trying to swing for home runs. Then they would hit 50 points lower. They're just really good hitters."
Jaime Garcia, who leads the major leagues with a 0.94 home earned run average, pitched well as usual at Busch Stadium. Garcia (8-3) held the Reds to two hits and one run for six innings before turning the game over to the bullpen. He has beaten the Reds five straight times the last two seasons.
Garcia had one rough inning, the fifth, when he allowed two walks and a single to .105-hitting Volquez. "I got off my mechanics a little," said Garcia, who got some advice from pitching coach Dave Duncan. "I was able to make the adjustment and go back to where I needed to be.
"All of a sudden you're trying not to walk (a hitter). I got a little bit too fine."
1B Albert Pujols, eligible to play after coming off the 15-day disabled list in remarkably quick time, wasn't needed Tuesday. Recovered from a fracture in his left wrist, Pujols is slated to start at first base on Wednesday.
"If there was a game situation (Tuesday), he was ready," said manager Tony La Russa, "but I didn't see one."
Pujols was supposed to be out four to six weeks but said, "I feel like if I can play. Why should I be on the bench? My job is to play baseball. I feel guilty feeling good and sitting on the bench. If I didn't feel good, I tell you, I'd be the first guy to say, 'You know what? I can't go.' "
INF/OF Allen Craig, who has been out a month with a broken kneecap, is hoping to start a rehab assignment next week. C Gerald Laird (broken right index finger) began his rehab assignment for Class AAA Memphis on Tuesday night and went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. RHP Eduardo Sanchez (irritated rotator cuff) will start a rehab assignment for Class AA Springfield on Thursday.
The Cardinals have hit back-to-back home runs four times this season. Tuesday, LF Matt Holliday and 1B Lance Berkman did the damage. Berkman has been a part of all four back-to-backs.
LF Matt Holliday, who will drop back to the No. 4 spot in the order with Albert Pujols returning to the No. 3 position on Wednesday, said, "Tomorrow, we're going to roll out the team we kind of thought our team would look like this season. We'll get Albert back in there and have (3B David) Freese back healthy."
BY THE NUMBERS: 13 - Consecutive series at Busch Stadium the Cardinals have either won or tied with the Cincinnati Reds. The Cardinals are 12-0-1 against the Reds at Busch Stadium since the Reds won a series played there in June 2006.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think the main thing is not to try to go out there and try to do too much."
- 1B Albert Pujols, who will play his first game on Wednesday night since June 19.
LHP Brian Tallet (strained intercostal muscle) was hurt while sneezing and was placed on the disabled July 5.
1B Albert Pujols (fractured left wrist) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 20. He took grounders and hit against a machine July 4, and he was activated July 5, four weeks ahead of schedule.
RHP Eduardo Sanchez (mild right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 13. He threw a bullpen session July 4, and he will begin a rehabilitation assignment with Class AA Springfield on July 7.
OF Allen Craig (broken right kneecap) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 8.
C Gerald Laird (broken right index finger) went on the 15-day disabled list May 23. He will begin a rehab assignment with Class AAA Memphis on July 5, and he could be activated as soon as July 8.
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. He was scheduled to play catch on flat ground in late June.
July 6 vs. REDS: Jake Westbrook (7-4, 4.92) vs. Bronson Arroyo (7-7, 5.49) 7:15
p.m. CDT (FOX Sports
VIDEOS FROM FOXSPORTSMIDWEST.COM
Albert Pujols and manager Tony La Russa react to the former's return to the squad.
Tony TV: La Russa reflects on his team's 8-1 victory over the Reds Tuesday night.
Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia share a few words after the former's multi-home run outing against Cincy.