The Cardinals have their first winning streak, two games, since Aug. 11-12.
And right fielder Lance Berkman has his first 30-homer season since 2007 and the sixth of his career. Berkman's two-run drive in the eighth inning turned a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
Berkman had hit only 14 home runs last year with Houston and the New York Yankees when he was coming off spring training knee surgery. Berkman battled some minor injury issues in spring training this year, but manager Tony La Russa said, "Our expectation, which was realistic, was that if we could keep him healthy, he would hit like he hits against us."
For his career with
All the Cardinals' runs came on home runs. Catcher Yadier Molina, who also threw out Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen at a key time in the seventh inning, hit a three-run homer in the second, his 12th of the season, to cancel the three runs the Pirates had scored against Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook in the first.
The early burst against Westbrook marked the ninth time in the last 11 games -- eight of them against the starter -- that the opposition had scored three or more runs in an inning against the Cardinals. But Westbrook drew high marks from La Russa for making it through the next five innings giving up one run.
"To me, the biggest hero was Westbrook," said La Russa. "What he did to keep us in that game ... heroic. He won that game for us."
Manager Tony La Russa concedes that his offense may have been thinking home run too often this season. And he insists that trying to hit home runs is counterproductive. "If we had less effort to hit one, we'd have more offense," said La Russa. "Without exception, there isn't a guy in baseball, ever, who thinks about home runs that ends up hitting more home runs and being helpful to his club. Never. Ever. Maybe Babe Ruth. I have never met him."
RF Lance Berkman, however, has a different perspective on the home run. After hitting his 30th, to win the game, he said, "I'm not scared of the home run. I think home runs are an integral part of any good offense. You're not going to score a lot of runs in the major leagues unless you have guys who hit the ball out of the ballpark. You look at the top offenses in the league. They always hit a lot of home runs. The pitching is too good in the league to rely on four singles."
The Cardinals announced
that Jeanine Duncan, wife of Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan, had undergone
surgery for a brain tumor Aug. 21.
With the news on Thursday of Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak saying the club intended to pick up the 2012 and 2013 options on injured RHP right-hander Adam Wainwright's contract, La Russa was asked if he would use Wainwright this year. La Russa's answer was an emphatic "No. If he can get to November and be 100 percent ready to do all of his exercises … that would be the best news," said La Russa. "If he could be Adam Wainwright by Opening Day next year, that would be a huge lift for him and this ballclub. That's the only thing that should be the target."
La Russa used the same eight-man lineup, both batting order and defensive position, for the second consecutive day. He has not gone for three yet this year. That lineup included Allen Craig, normally a corner outfielder, making just his fourth start in center field. "The effort is to get him enough at-bats to make him a part of what we're trying to do," La Russa said. "I mean, he gets good jumps. His foot speed is not Jon Jay's or Corey Patterson's, but he does get good jumps, he's got sure hands. … You look for some early offense and later on you can play defense if you want."
BY THE NUMBERS: 5 - Pitchers on the Cardinals' staff who have recorded 10 wins this season. RHP Edwin Jackson got three of his with the Chicago White Sox. RHP Kyle McClellan got to 10 (three in relief) with his win out of the bullpen on Friday.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "If you don't like home runs, then don't watch us play."
- RF Lance Berkman.
INF Nick Punto (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list July 29.
RHP Eduardo Sanchez (mild right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 13. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Springfield on July 7 but had renewed soreness soon after and was shut down until late August or early September. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 31.
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.
VIDEO FROM FOXSPORTSMIDWEST.COM
The Cardinals reflect on a close win against Pittsburgh on Friday.