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Lineup shift helps, but not enough
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05/07/2002 00:12 am ET 
Lineup shift helps, but not enough
Drew, Pujols, Edmonds, Martinez all bumped up
By Amy Sternig / MLB.com

Kerry Robinson, seen here sliding into second, was driven home by J.D. Drew for the Cardinals' first run. (AP Photo)

CHICAGO -- A "new look" Cardinals lineup almost got the job done Monday night at Wrigley Field.

Manager Tony La Russa shifted things up a bit, keeping Fernando Vina in the leadoff spot, then moving J.D. Drew to the No. 2 position, Albert Pujols to the three-hole, Jim Edmonds to fourth and Tino Martinez fifth. The lineup was rounded out by Edgar Renteria, Mike Matheny, Kerry Robinson and pitcher Travis Smith.

La Russa made the change in the hopes his offense would come to life. While the Cardinals had the second-best average in the National League on Monday at .264, they also led the league in stranding runners on base, with 259 baserunners left in place (8.4 per game) coming into the contest.

The Cards went down 4-1 after three innings, but battled back to take a 5-4 lead. They lost it on an Alex Gonzalez walk-off homer with one out in the ninth. After starting strong, the Cubs added a run to their lead in the fifth, but the Redbirds scored two each in both the fourth and fifth innings. The score remained deadlocked at 5 until the ninth.

In addition to finally scoring some runs, some hitters also came out of funks for the St. Louis offense. Drew, who had been 1-for-12 and 4-for-27, went 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Edmonds, the team's most consistent producer this year, went 1-for-6 over the weekend against Atlanta but was 2-for-4 on Monday. Pujols' double was his first extra-base hit in nine days, and Martinez singled to get off the schneid after an 0-for-10 weekend.

All-Star ballot Drew, who struck out four times in four at-bats on Sunday, said the lineup change wasn't that big a deal for him, but it did help him break the mini-slump.

"I had a couple good at bats," he said. "I got back in the rhythm. Sometimes you go through spells, and I had three pretty tough games in a row. It's a matter of getting back to the basics and trying to get a ball in the zone to hit. Tonight I hit a couple balls pretty well. That helped us out a little bit."

Drew said that the the decision was a motivational tool that worked.

"I think it's changing things up a little bit and giving everybody a different look," Drew said. "Anytime you get some change, it can be either one of two things: it can really mess everybody up or get everybody really motivated. I understood the reason he did it and tried to go out there and make the most of it."

While injuries can be blamed for some of the year's misfortunes, La Russa refuses to accept that as an excuse.

"You have to concentrate on the guys who are available," he said. "We've got enough (good players) to win our share of games.

"People look for easy answers, the easy answer is guys on the disabled list. (But) our position players are healthy most of the time, (although) sometimes we have some minor aches and pains. But we've been in a position to win. We could be a little over .500 right now. We could be more productive offensively."


The Cardinals had been held homerless for 40 innings during their last five games. Monday, Renteria snapped the streak in the fourth inning with a two-run shot to the left-field bleachers.

In the fifth, Edmonds absolutely crushed an 0-1 pitch over the right-field bleachers onto Sheffield Avenue for his eighth homer of the year.

St. Louis' struggle to plate runners in scoring position also abated Monday. Drew's third-inning RBI double scored Robinson from second and Edmonds' fifth-inning homer drove in Pujols, who had doubled one batter before Edmonds came to the plate.

In their last series, against Atlanta, the Rebirds were just 8-for-39 (.205) with runners in scoring position. Overall, St. Louis was hitting 248 with runners in scoring position before Monday's game.

Monday, the Cards stranded three runners in scoring position and six men total. But they also plated two runs in RISP situations. Maybe there was something to the idea of moving guys around.

Martinez said the lineup shakeup is a normal part of baseball.

"Every team does that when they're struggling," Martinez said. "You try to mix it up a little bit. Try to get guys going. Hopefully it works and you find a way to get some runs and just get guys hot."

For the season only Renteria (.368), Vina (.364) and Marrero (.304) are hitting over .300 with runners in scoring position, and only Renteria and Vina actually have a higher average with runners in scoring position than in other situations.

Drew said the stats don't tell the whole picture, however.

"This is a game of inches, so hits can go in and fall in here and there," he said. "Sometimes you really hit a ball hard and that doesn't show up in the stats. Everybody understands we need to do a better job in those situations, try to find a hole here and there. But sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the other pitchers and just realize they are doing their job and making pitches to get out of those situations."

Amy Sternig is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.





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