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Marlins' keeper stops Cards
ST. LOUIS -- A.J. Burnett's first start since the Florida Marlins decided to keep him at the trade deadline was a lot like the three before that.
Burnett pitched into the eighth inning and Miguel Cabrera had four hits in a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night that gave Florida a split in the four-game series.
Burnett has won his last four outings with a 1.93 ERA in that span, so talk of getting dealt did not affect him.
"Now that all the trades are over with, all the talk is over with, it's time to get serious and really step it up and win this thing," Burnett said. "That's really driving me and motivating me."
Jeff Conine, Cabrera and Paul Lo Duca -- the Marlins' 3-4-5 hitters -- went 9-for-11 against Jeff Suppan with three RBIs. They scored all the runs for Florida, which avoided its first three-game losing streak since July 16-18. Suppan held the rest of the lineup to 1-for-19, the hit an RBI single by Alex Gonzalez.
"I think they're swinging the bats really well right now," Suppan said. "They gave me a tough time."
Cabrera, who was a quiet 3-for-12 with one RBI in the first three games, hit a two-run homer in the first, doubled and singled twice off Suppan. Lo Duca had three singles and an RBI and Conine singled twice and scored twice.
"The last three games they were working me inside, and today I said I was going to be ready," Cabrera said. "I had a good night."
Seven of the Marlins' hits came with two outs against Suppan, who needed 51 pitches to get the first two outs of innings in his 6 2-3-inning stint, but 45 to get the third out. Suppan (10-8) gave up four runs and 10 hits, losing for the first time in six starts.
"A lot of things happened with two outs and nobody on and boom, boom," manager Tony La Russa said. "That's a good way to win and a tough way to lose."
Burnett (9-6) mostly dominated with a sinker that forced 14 groundball outs, carrying a shutout into the eighth before tiring against an injury-riddled lineup missing five starters. He gave up three runs and 10 hits in 7 2-3 innings, ending a string of 21 consecutive scoreless innings.
"I didn't have my curveball early, so we just let them put it play and threw them sinker after sinker," Burnett said. "They pounded it into the ground."
The Cardinals had only one runner in scoring position over the first seven innings before breaking through in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Hector Luna singled with one out, stole second and went to third on catcher Lo Duca's wild throw, then scored on a double by John Rodriguez.
Albert Pujols followed with a run-scoring single, a blooper that right fielder Juan Encarnacion lost in the lights, and John Mabry's RBI double cut the deficit to a run.
"He's out of the jam if we catch the ball in right field," manager Jack McKeon said. "He could have gone all the way, but then he got in a rut and everything was going against him so it was time to change."
Todd Jones got So Taguchi on a groundout with runners on second and third to end the eighth and finished for his 22nd save in 24 chances. Jones had his first at-bat of the season, taking a called third strike for the first out in the ninth.
Jones, a left-handed hitter, took note that the Cardinals switched from right-hander Al Reyes to lefty Randy Flores to start the ninth.
"I want you to recognize that Tony respects my power by bringing in the lefty to face me, not (Juan) Pierre," Jones joked to reporters.
Conine singled with two outs in the first and Cabrera followed with his 24th homer. Leadoff singles by Cabrera, Lo Duca and a two-out hit by Gonzalez made it 3-0 in the fourth.
In the fifth the Marlins bunched two-out singles by Conine, Cabrera and Lo Duca to go ahead 4-0.
Notes: Cabrera is batting (.447) 34-for-76 since the All-Star break and .355 for the season, three points behind NL leading Derrek Lee of the Cubs. "That's two months," Cabrera said. "A lot of things can happen." ... Burnett has allowed three or fewer runs in 18 of his 22 starts. ... Both regular 2Bs got the day off. The Marlins' Jose Castillo, who was 5-for-11 in the series, has leg soreness. The Cardinals' Mark Grudzielanek got his second break in 20 games since the All-Star break but entered as a defensive replacement in the ninth. ... A sellout crowd of 44,201 was the Cardinals' 18th straight game with over 40,000 in attendance.