Notes: Luna likes hitting second
Utility player slides in front of Pujols in the St. Louis lineup
ST. LOUIS -- It's possible the Cardinals have found their No. 2 hitter.
The wisest thing would probably be to give it a couple of days before anointing Hector Luna in that spot, but Luna seized the chance on Tuesday night, and found himself there again on Wednesday. The position in front of Albert Pujols in the batting order has been surprisingly problematic for St. Louis all year.
Luna is one of seven players to start in the No. 2 spot, which is more than have started at any other position in the order. He rapped out three base hits on Tuesday.
"Hitting second, I like it," Luna said. "But in the seventh spot, I like that, too."
Rolen still absent: Scott Rolen again was not at the ballpark on Wednesday, as he recuperates from bronchitis. Rolen may return to Busch Stadium on Thursday, though it's not likely he'll be back in the lineup yet.
"He'll be here tomorrow," head athletic trainer Barry Weinberg said on Wednesday. "He's feeling better today."
For the second straight day, Scott Spiezio provided production in Rolen's stead at third base. Spiezio, who homered on Tuesday, added an RBI single that put the Cardinals ahead in the first inning on Wednesday.
"With most negatives, there's a plus," said manager Tony La Russa. "With Rolen being sick, it's that Spiezio gets a couple games."
Edmonds sits: Against Pirates lefty Zach Duke, the only left-handed hitter in the Cardinals lineup on Wednesday was starting pitcher Mark Mulder. The Redbirds had switch-hitters Spiezio at third and Aaron Miles at second base, and every other position player was a right-handed hitter. So Taguchi took Jim Edmonds' place in center field, with Luna starting in left.
This date in Cardinals history: On April 26, 1963, the Cardinals rallied for five runs in the final two innings to beat the Dodgers, 8-7, at Dodger Stadium. Bill White cracked a game-tying two-run double in the ninth, and George Altman followed with an RBI single for the winning margin. The Cards won despite Bob Gibson being hammered for seven runs in three-plus innings. Thanks to Project Retrosheet (www.retrosheet.org) for the information.
Baby 'Birds: Triple-A Memphis' game against Omaha on Tuesday was rained out. ... Double-A Springfield beat Tulsa, 5-4, behind a big game from Cody Haerther and two RBIs from Iker Franco. ... Nick Webber pitched seven fine innings for Class A Palm Beach, but a ninth-inning sacrifice fly led to a 4-3 loss against Vero Beach. Terry Evans doubled and scored. ... Colby Rasmus and Matt Wilkerson each had two hits and a walk for Class A Quad Cities in a 6-5 loss to Beloit. Rasmus has hit in seven straight games and has six multihit games in that span, raising his batting average from .163 to .272.
Player of the day laurels go to Haerther, who has been hot for two weeks now. The Springfield outfielder went 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI, putting him at .323 with a .597 slugging percentage on the year. After a 3-for-23 start to the year, he's hitting .436 since April 13 with eight extra-base hits. Haerther, 22, was the Cardinals' sixth-round pick in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.
Coming up: The Nationals will make their first visit to new Busch Stadium on Thursday night for the opener of a four-game weekend series. Sidney Ponson will pitch for St. Louis against a yet-to-be-announced starter for Washington -- possibly Jon Rauch. Game time is set for 7:10 p.m. CT.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.