Talk about your improbable
situations. The Cardinals were facing
"That's about as tough as it gets," said manager Tony La Russa. "Ninth inning against Trevor Hoffman.
"But (Stavinoha) has got a well-deserved reputation coming up through our system as taking some tough at-bats. Every hitting coach or manager who's ever had him always has said the same thing about Stav -- that he'll take a tough at-bat as well as anybody."
Stavinoha made his mark last year with the Cardinals in a couple of trials when he hit .333 as a pinch hitter (5-for-15). But he had to fight this spring to make the club for the first time out of spring training.
He lofted a 1-2 pitch from Hoffman well over the left-field wall and the Cardinals stole back a game they seemed destined to lose.
La Russa said he had told Stavinoha earlier that he would be his ninth-inning pinch hitter.
"He's got more experience than anybody (else who was left)," said La Russa.
CARDINALS 5, BREWERS 4: Righty Kyle Lohse, having trouble with umpire Jeff Kellogg's strike zone, walked two hitters in a row that cost him two runs in the fourth inning and generally had an up-and-down game in allowing four runs in six innings. But left fielder Matt Holliday's homer in the sixth cut the Milwaukee lead to one run and pinch-hitter Nick Stavinoha's dramatic, two-run, two-out homer in the ninth won the game.
--RHP Blake Hawksworth, appearing for the first time this season, worked a perfect seventh, LHP Dennys Reyes got a key pickoff in the eighth and RHP Ryan Franklin got his second save with a scoreless ninth to lead the Cardinals' bullpen, which had been criticized for its work in the season's first three games.
--LHP Dennys Reyes, who got into
trouble by his own devices later in the inning, blunted
--OF Nick Stavinoha's game-winning pinch homer was the second such homer of his career. The Cardinals had had just one other (unsuccessful) pinch at-bat in the first three games.
--Rallying to win when trailing after eight innings was not the Cardinals' strong suit last year. They were 4-59 when down after eight.
--Manager Tony La Russa said he
wasn't surprised that
--CF Colby Rasmus, who walked ahead of Stavinoha's game-winning homer, has drawn seven base on balls in four games.
--RF Ryan Ludwick, moved from sixth to second, struck out three times in four at-bats as the modest reshuffling of the Cardinals' lineup didn't pay many dividends Friday. SS Brendan Ryan, dropped from second to eighth, fanned twice in three at-bats.