Cardinals Major League Notebook: 05/21/10

Delivering in a key at-bat, Matt Holliday drove in the decisive runs in Thursday's win over Florida. The Cardinals recaptured first place in the process.



Perhaps Matt Holliday's long nightmare is over. After going 8 for his first 51 (.157) with runners in scoring position, Holliday doubled home the two go-ahead runs Thursday in the second inning of the Cardinals' win over Florida.

Holliday, who hit the ball hard four times, also doubled in the seventh.

"I think Matt's biggest problem is trying too hard, trying to force things," manager Tony La Russa said.

On the other hand, Albert Pujols looked terribly frustrated, even though he went 1-for-3. Pujols, who has only eight extra-base hits this month, including a fifth-inning double Thursday, seemed especially displeased when he flied out to short center with Holliday at third and one out in the seventh.

"He's got great emotion and he's got great pride. And he didn't produce," La Russa said. "If Albert's our only problem, we've got no problems. Albert's going to be Albert."

Right-hander Adam Wainwright hadn't been all that happy with his recent work, especially the control of his curveball, even though he was 5-2 entering the game. Then Wainwright found himself down 2-0 in the first inning as he struggled to find his rhythm in a 30-pitch inning. But Wainwright got a key strikeout of Florida cleanup man Jorge Cantu in that frame. After the first, Wainwright didn't allow the Marlins to get a man to third base, and only two reached second in his final six innings. He wound up earning the win.

"I would not have bet he could have gotten through seven (innings)," La Russa said, "but he's come a long way. He's really good."

The two runs Wainwright allowed in the first inning marked the first time he had been scored on in that inning since July 12. Counting postseason play and this year, that streak covered 24 starts before Thursday.

Right-hander Ryan Franklin walked his first hitter of the season after 18 innings but nailed down his 10th save in 11 games as the Cardinals moved back into first place in the National League Central.

CARDINALS 4, MARLINS 2: The Cardinals mustered only two hits after the second inning Thursday, but they did enough in the first two innings. 3B David Freese's two-out, run-scoring single rescued a first inning that almost got away. RF Ryan Ludwick doubled in one run, and LF Matt Holliday doubled in two more in the second as the Cardinals won for the third time in four games on their homestand.


The Cardinals hitters, whose strikeouts are up more than one per game from last year at this time, fanned only once Thursday. RF Ryan Ludwick struck out against Florida LHP Renyel Pinto in the seventh inning.

The Cardinals will open their interleague schedule this weekend with three games against the Angels, the first coming against RHP Joel Pineiro, who won 15 games for St. Louis last year. The Angels will be making their third visit to St. Louis. The Cardinals have yet to play in Anaheim. "Joel has everything you would want in a pitcher," manager Tony La Russa said. "Movement, he's a great athlete, smart. Hope he has a bad day."

SS Brendan Ryan, who had been 1-for-30, got a rare start and reached base twice, singling and walking. "I haven't seen him smile like that in a while," manager Tony La Russa said. "Those emotions aren't on his sleeve. They're all over his body."

Even though the Cardinals have won three of four games with LF Matt Holliday batting third and 1B Albert Pujols fourth, manager Tony La Russa said it was more likely than not that the two would reverse their positions in the order, which is the way they had hit since Holliday came to the Cardinals last July 24. "I think most of the games we play this year, we're going to have (Holliday) hit fourth and Albert third," La Russa said.

RHP Adam Wainwright, the leading winner in the league at 19 last year, is tied for third in the NL this year at six. He said he was able to keep his front shoulder in more Thursday, enabling him to power to the plate. As for the command of his occasionally troublesome curveball, he said, "It was better."

By The Numbers:

9-Games the Cardinals went without a home run before they hit two on May 14. That was their longest dry spell since they had 10 homerless games in May 2007.

Quote To Note:

"I stopped worrying about where my body was, where my hands were… I went back to just trying to see the baseball."

-RF Ryan Ludwick, whose average had slipped into the .250s before he went on a recent eight-game hitting streak.


Medical Watch:

The Cardinals have no significant injuries.

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