Lopez gets first start at shortstop since '08
Utility man moves up to second spot in Cardinals' lineup
MILWAUKEE -- For the first time since 2008, Felipe Lopez started a game at shortstop, replacing Brendan Ryan in the Cardinals' lineup Saturday.
After entering the game at shortstop in the seventh inning Friday night, Lopez got the starting nod Saturday in place of Ryan, who batted .067 (1-for-15) in the team's first four games.
Last year, Lopez played second base for Arizona and Milwaukee. He last started at shortstop two seasons ago when he was in his first stint with the Cardinals.
"I've played that position all my life," he said.
Manager Tony La Russa placed Lopez second in the batting order, the third consecutive game a different player occupied that spot. Ryan batted second in the opening series against Cincinnati, and Ryan Ludwick was put in the two-hole Friday and struck out three times.
Lopez said he would not change his approach batting second, just ahead of Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday.
"I do the same swings and do what I do best," he said. "The only difference is I have to move runners, but I have to do that with less than two outs anyways. You just do your job. It doesn't matter whether you are hitting leadoff or ninth."
La Russa said Lopez would play second base, shortstop, third base and outfield this season.
"He's going to play a lot," La Russa said. "He's going to play all over."
La Russa bristled when asked whether he was sending Ryan a message about his slow start.
"That's not accurate," he said.
Pujols-Holliday combo creates tough calls
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ken Macha was in an unenviable position Friday night and had a tough decision to make: Should he pitch to Albert Pujols or to Matt Holliday with the game on the line in the eighth inning?
The Cardinals were trailing 4-3 with Skip Schumaker on second with two outs. Pujols was due to bat, and Holliday, who was 3-for-3 with a single, double and home run at the time, was on deck.
"It's a terrible spot for a manager, but pick your poison," manager Tony La Russa said. "Sometimes you do it and Matt gets you. Sometimes you do it and Albert gets you. It's just one of our strengths."
It's a situation opposing managers will have to face on occasion this year, dealing with two high-caliber hitters in the middle of the Cardinals' lineup. Friday was the first time it had happened late in a game this season, and Macha elected to intentionally walk Pujols and pitch to Holliday. Reliever LaTroy Hawkins threw a fastball past Holliday for the strikeout to end the inning.
"You have to applaud Ken because he made the right move, and he had the guts to make it," La Russa said.
Freese comes through with runners on
MILWAUKEE -- Rookie David Freese has been at the plate five times with runners in scoring position this year, and he's come through for the Cardinals.
He is 3-for-4 with runners in scoring position, getting four RBIs.
"Pitchers are going to give you their best stuff," Freese said of batting in clutch situations. "That's why I'm here, to drive in runs and produce runs. I'm trying to keep it simple. I haven't seen a lot of these [pitchers], so that's pretty tough. I'm trying to go out there and get the barrel on it, and good things can happen.
"It feels good," he said. "It's a good way to get things going."
His fifth plate appearance with runners in scoring position came Friday night, and he responded with a second-inning sacrifice fly that scored Matt Holliday from third in the Cardinals' 5-4 victory over the Brewers.
"He's been getting consistently good at-bats," manager Tony La Russa said.
La Russa appreciates Reyes' smart play
MILWAUKEE -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Saturday that he had been trying to get reliever Dennys Reyes on his team for many years, finally signing him before the 2009 season.
"He's really smart," La Russa said of Reyes.
Reyes used his smarts Friday night to pick off Ryan Braun at first base late in the game. With the Brewers leading 4-3, Braun led off the eighth with a single. Reyes had to make four throws, but eventually succeeded when first baseman Albert Pujols made the tag on the Brewers star.
"He took an extra step," Reyes said. "I wanted to keep him close to the bag."
Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee reached base after the pickoff, but were unable to score, hampering the Brewers in a close game.
Joe DiGiovanni is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.