5/17/2014 7:54 P.M. ET
Craig slowly returning to form in heart of Cards' lineup
By Bill Hester / Special to MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- It is not often that someone who is hitting .217 finds himself hitting cleanup.
That was the case Friday night as St. Louis manager Mike Matheny inserted Allen Craig into that spot. Craig responded with three hits, including a key RBI single in a three-run fifth inning in the Cardinals 5-2 victory over Atlanta.
In Saturday's 4-1 win over the Braves, Craig continued to look strong at the plate. The right fielder went 1-for-3 with an RBI, raising his average to .233.
"When our offense is right and everybody is clicking, that's a great spot for Allen Craig because he can drive in runs," said Matheny who is hitting Craig fourth again Saturday.
Craig drove in 97 runs last year and 92 in 2012. His production is crucial to a team which has struggled to score runs this season.
"It's just a matter of time," Craig said. "I've gone in and out of it the whole season. I've hit some balls decent, but right at people. I've had some good at-bats, some bad at-bats, some good swings, some bad swings. I just need to be more consistent and I am getting there."
Craig has gone 10-for-27 in his last seven games, raising has average from .202 to .231 (he hit .315 in 2013 and .307 in 2012). His key RBI Friday was his 17th of the season.
"I believe Allen is getting so close and there are just so many guys who have that ability," Matheny said. "And he's driving in runs. You look at his average and he's still finding a way to get runs knocked in. His average is a little deceptive right now. That's going to change as well over time. He's going about his at-bats the right way."
Former first-round picks making noise in Cards' system
ST. LOUIS -- Former first-round Draft choices are making a huge impact on the farm these days, nobody as much as outfielder Randal Grichuk.
Grichuk, a first-round Draft choice in 2009 by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, is tearing up the Pacific Coast League. He hit yet another home run Friday in a 4-0 Memphis victory over Omaha. That gives the outfielder four home runs in his last three games. In his last six games, Grichuk is hitting .520 (13-for-25) with five home runs and 10 runs scored.
Scott Moore hit a pair of solo homers for the other Memphis runs and Nick Greenwood, Justin Wright and Jose Almarante each pitched three scoreless innings in the shutout. The trio combined for eight strikeouts and did not walk a batter.
James Ramsey, a first-round pick by the Cardinals in 2012, hit another home run in Springfield's 11-9 loss to Arkansas Friday night.
It was the 11th home run of the season for the former Florida State standout and his fifth in the last 11 games. Ramsey is currently hitting .305. His homer in a five-run sixth inning helped Springfield come back to tie the game 9-9, but Lee Stoppelman gave up a pair of runs in the ninth inning and got the loss.
Marco Gonzales, the first-round pick for the Cardinals in 2013, will get his first start in Double-A tonight in Springfield. The southpaw was the 19th overall pick out of Gonzaga. He has shined in Class A in Palm Beach with a 2-2 record and a 1.43 ERA.
Gonzales had six starts with Palm Beach before moving up and allowed more than one run in only one of them.
Bourjos discusses ejection from series opener
ST. LOUIS -- Peter Bourjos and Mike Matheny were each ejected in the fourth inning of Friday night's game. Bourjos was ejected by home-plate umpire Sean Barber in the fourth inning after arguing following a strikeout to end the inning. It was the first ejection in Bourjos' career. Matheny was also ejected by Barber after the strikeout.
It was the first time Matheny has been ejected this season. It is his seventh ejection as a manager in his career and his ninth overall.
"I was just arguing balls and strikes," Bourjos said. "There was not a whole lot more to it. You could see from the video the pitches I had a problem with. I was walking away and he said something. I turned around and at that point, I think I was ejected. I probably should have just kept walking. There is nothing he said that should have provoked me more, but I was pretty upset."
Bourjos was happy with the support he received from Matheny.
"It's nice to see that," Bourjos said. "I didn't see him go flying by me. I probably had my head down walking away. When I turned around I saw him out there. It was nice to see him have your back in that situation."
It's a situation which Bourjos does not envision happening again anytime soon.
"I've never been tossed, not even a Little League game," Bourjos said. "I don't get too excited very often. I don't want to make a habit of it."
Bourjos was not sure of the correct protocol after being tossed.
"I had no idea what to do," Bourjos said. "I just sat in the video room and watched the game. Hopefully, it never happens again."
• Jhonny Peralta and Matt Holliday each extended long streaks of reaching base on Friday. Peralta had a hit and a walk and has reached base safely in 19 straight games. Holliday had an RBI double in the three-run fifth inning. He has reached base safely in all 16 home games this season. He also scored a run for the 17th time this season. The Cardinals are 14-3 when he has scored a run.
• Yadier Molina has hit safely in every game this homestand (7-for-14, .500) and is on a five-game hitting streak entering Saturday's game. Molina has hits in 14 of the 15 home games with an average at home of .407 (24-59).
Bill Hester is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.