The Redbird Report 07/06

One of the staples of Cardinals championship teams over the years has been their defense and it rarely was better than Thursday against Arizona

The Cardinals turned five double plays and needed every one of them to subdue Arizona and win the four-game series, three games to one.

Right-hander Jason Isringhausen, who gained his 17th save in 19 tries, hasn't necessarily been considered a ground-ball pitcher over the years but he got rookie C Miguel Montero to roll over on a pitch with the bases loaded and one out and second baseman Aaron Miles started the double play that ended the game.

Right-hander Russ Springer got out of a similar mess in the eighth. Inheriting a runner at third and one out, with the Cardinals ahead by one run, Springer got a popup and a ground ball and helped preserve starting RHP Adam Wainwright's seventh victory, which leads the club.

The Cardinals' fourth victory in five games drew them 7 1/2 games behind first-place Milwaukee in the National League Central Division and three games behind second-place Chicago.

CARDINALS 3, DIAMONDBACKS 2: Juan Encarnacion, a .455 career hitter against Arizona's Doug Davis, jumped on a Davis mistake in a scoreless game in the sixth and provided all the Cardinals' offense with a three-run homer. Adam Wainwright twirled a four-hit shutout until the eighth, when he was removed after a double and a walk.


--RHP Ryan Franklin, who has been one of the Cardinals' most consistent performers this season at 3-0 with a 1.29 earned run average out of the bullpen, has agreed to a two-year contract extension at an estimated $5 million for 2008-09, with a club option for 2010. Franklin was a low-budget, high-reward signing by the Cardinals at a base of $1 million for this year.

--SS David Eckstein is working out again after getting some shots to relieve discomfort in his back but manager Tony La Russa isn't sure if Eckstein will be ready by the first game after the All-Star break on July 13 in Philadelphia.

--On Friday night, the Cardinals will gird for San Francisco and OF Barry Bonds, who is on the cusp of breaking the career home-run record.

Manager Tony La Russa says his only concern in this regard "is for us to try to win the game." As for Bonds breaking the mark either in St. Louis later this month, La Russa said, "You get what you earn. If he earns it, he gets it."

--1B Albert Pujols went homerless for the 19th straight game. He is hitting .344 in that span with 17 singles among 21 hits and 21 walks.

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