Yadier Molina, who finished the first half by hitting .173 over a two-month span to wind up at .223, vowed at the All-Star break that he was starting a new season. And so far, he has been true to his word, opening the second half much as he did the first half.
Molina cracked two homers, including a grand slam, in the first four games of the season, driving in seven runs. In the first two games after the break, Molina has knocked in six runs, four on Friday, when he hit a two-run homer and had a single.
The latest two games represent just the second time this season, and the first time since late April, that Molina had had back-to-back multi-hit games.
"I'm the same guy," he said. "I'm finally finding some holes. Same guy."
Molina's production and a two-run triple by Randy Winn helped the Cardinals overcome a rare poor outing by left-handed rookie Jaime Garcia, who suffered his second-fastest knockout of the season. He lasted 3 1/3 innings, giving up eight hits but only two runs.
"He was out of whack a little bit," manager Tony La Russa said. "It was a real struggle, so we got him out."
"We threw too many pitches," said Molina, making it a collective blame. "We were behind in the count, or if we were ahead in the count, we didn't finish the guy."
Garcia, whose still impressive ERA has risen to a season-high 2.27, said, "You just try to flush that one and get ready for the next one. And make sure it doesn't happen again.
"No excuses for tonight. Our hitters did a great job."
CARDINALS 8, DODGERS 4: A Cardinals bullpen that had closed the first half with 10 scoreless innings worked 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball to ensure St. Louis' fourth victory in the last five games and third in a row. Five Cardinals had two hits, with every starting position player hitting safely.
NOTES AND QUOTES
RF Randy Winn started ahead of hot-hitting Jon Jay on the basis of his 11-for-25 lifetime performance against the Dodgers' starter, RHP Chad Billingsley. Winn had a two-run triple and a single. "You flip a coin and sometimes the coin turns out right," manager Tony La Russa said. "I'm sure if it hadn't turned out, I would have heard about it. That's why I don't worry about it. I thought it was the right thing to do, so you do it."
RHP Kyle McClellan, who lost out this spring to impressive LHP Jaime Garcia in a battle for the final spot in the rotation, gained his first win of the season when he relieved Garcia in the fourth inning. McClellan, who tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings, was one of six Cardinals relievers to work.
3B David Freese, though he has yet to begin running, said he has been able to walk without pain in a right ankle which has a bone bruise. Freese has been out some three weeks, and he isn't scheduled to return for another 10 days or so. But after going through a full workout in the field Friday afternoon, Freese said, "Every day I'm getting better."
RHP Brad Penny, sidelined since May 21 with upper back and shoulder issues, remains out indefinitely. Asked the status of the veteran, manager Tony La Russa said, "I have no good or bad expectations. I have no expectations."
RHP Kyle Lohse, six weeks removed from forearm surgery, could be back pitching before RHP Brad Penny (back/shoulder), GM John Mozeliak suggested Thursday. "I think you can at least ask the question," manager Tony La Russa said. "Penny is liable to have something click. But (the question) is worth asking."
The Cardinals' win
Thursday was the 2,600th victory of manager Tony La Russa's big-league career.
The game was started and won by RHP Chris Carpenter, as was the Cardinals' final
win last season in
By the Numbers:
7-for-72 - Hits and at-bats for slumping All-Star C Yadier Molina as the first half ended.
Quote to Note:
"The key is to have a good atmosphere in the clubhouse where guys care about each other and trust each other and go about their business. I think we have that."
- Manager Tony La Russa, on the club's chemistry.
RF Nick Stavinoha (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 12.
RF Ryan Ludwick (strained left calf) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 26. He may not return to the lineup until the last week of July.
CF Colby Rasmus (sore right hamstring) left the July 9 game and didn't play July 10. He did not start July 11, although he did deliver a pinch-hit RBI single. He returned to the lineup July 15.
RHP Adam Ottavino (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 4. He will undergo season-ending surgery.
3B David Freese (bone bruise on right ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 28. He is not expected to return before late July.
RHP Kyle Lohse (right forearm strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 23, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 5. He had surgery May 28 to alleviate muscle discomfort. He played catch June 28 for the first time since the surgery. He will throw a bullpen session July 17.
RHP Brad Penny (strained upper back) went on the 15-day disabled list May 22. He threw bullpen sessions June 28 and July 1 but had to cut short a bullpen session July 6 due to tightness in his triceps area. He underwent an MRI on July 7, which found nothing that hadn't been diagnosed before. He probably won't return to the Cardinals until August and might be out for the year.