Happy (Holliday)! Cards back on top
Posted: Friday, May 21, 2010 5:24 pm
By: By R.B. FALLSTROM, AP Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two doubles and two RBI qualifies as a monster day for Matt Holliday. So far, it’s been a fairly weak season for the St. Louis Cardinals’ big free agent pickup.
Holliday snapped a six-game RBI drought and drove in his first runs in four games since moving to third in the lineup, getting the go-ahead hit for Adam Wainwright in a 4-2 victory over the Florida Marlins on Thursday. St. Louis regained first place in the NL Central after three days out of the lead in the National League Central.
“It feels good to help the team win,” Holliday said. “Anytime you do something to help the team, it’s a gratifying feeling.”
Hanley Ramirez had an RBI single and a walk for the Marlins, who lost for only the second time in eight games. Nate Robertson (4-4) faced an all-right-handed lineup and gave up four runs in six innings while taking the loss.
“We had a two-run lead early on Wainwright and you have to keep it there,” Robertson said. “We both settled in but it was too little, too late for me.”
Chris Coghlan doubled off the top of the right field wall to open the game and RBI by Ramirez and Dan Uggla represented the first first-inning runs allowed by Wainwright (6-2) this season. Florida totaled four hits and had only two runners in scoring position the next six innings against the right-hander, who’s 4-0 with a 2.10 ERA in four starts at home.
“If I’m missing over the plate, there’s a reason for it,” Wainwright said. “It’s great when you can catch it early like that.”
Holliday’s two-run double in the second made it 4-2 and gave him 16 RBI, sixth-best on the team, and he also doubled in the seventh and stole third. He flied out with two on and none out in the first and had been 8-for-51 with runners in scoring position before the two-run double.
The Cardinals offense has been scuffling, and Holliday has been one of the major reasons. He hadn’t had an RBI off an extra-base hit since his fourth homer on April 19, and none at home since the 2009 regular-season finale.
“I’ve said it a number of times, I think Matt’s biggest problem is trying too hard, trying to force things,” manager Tony La Russa said. “He looked a little more relaxed, a little more like himself.”
No argument there.
“You want to be the guy to kind of bust out,” Holliday said. “Sometimes you try too hard, sometimes you maybe force the issue instead of letting it come to you.
“I’m just as guilty as anybody else.”
The Cardinals are 3-1 since Holliday and Pujols switched spots in the order, although La Russa considers it a temporary arrangement.
The Marlins had two hits, a walk and a 1-0 lead after the first three batters against Wainwright, who allowed a sacrifice fly and had two strikeouts to finish a 30-pitch inning. Two of Wainwright’s eight strikeouts came against cleanup man Jorge Cantu, and sixth-place hitter Cody Ross also fanned twice.
“I would not have bet he could have gotten through seven,” La Russa said.
Wainwright retreated to the clubhouse to watch video after the first, noticed his delivery had been out of whack, and administered a quick fix.
“We were expecting to build on that,” Uggla said. “You know, Wainwright had other ideas for us. He shut us down.”
Robertson’s outing was only the second this month in which a Florida starter allowed more than three earned runs. The Marlins rotation is 10-5 with a 2.79 ERA in May.
All four of the Cardinals’ runs came on two-out hits. David Freese had an RBI single in the first and is batting .375 with runners in scoring position, even after missing chances to add to the Cardinals’ cushion his last three times, and Ryan Ludwick added an RBI double in the second.
Ryan Franklin worked the ninth for his 10th save in 11 chances. Brett Hayes had two hits and his walk on a full count with two outs in the ninth was the first this season in 18 innings against Franklin.
“I never walk guys, look at my track record,” Franklin said. “I’ve just always been able to throw strikes.”
NOTES: The Marlins lead the majors with 36 errors but had none in the two-game series. … Freese has played 254 consecutive innings over 29 games at 3B since April 19. … The Cardinals are 10-5 against the NL East. … Cardinals 2B Felipe Lopez dazzled in the ninth, going to his right to snare Cameron Maybin’s one-hop smash and then making the throw to first.