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Molina caps another Cardinals comeback
The catcher's two-run single helped lift St. Louis to a 5-4 win against the Braves
ST. LOUIS -- Chris Carpenter had reason to celebrate after another big hit by Yadier Molina.
Carpenter won on his 35th birthday and Molina had the go-ahead hit for the second straight game in the St. Louis Cardinals' 5-4 victory over the struggling Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.
"I can't really tell you what it is because I don't know," Molina said. "I just come through in those situations because I have confidence in myself.
"I think, if it's there I'm going to make a good swing."
Atlanta has totaled 13 runs during a seven-game losing streak, the franchise's worst since a 10-game skid in June 2006. The Braves coughed up an early lead for the second straight game, 2-0 after three innings Tuesday and 3-0 after five Monday.
"We played two solid games," Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said. "Swung the bats fairly well, played good defense, pitched well. It's a pitch or a play or an at-bat here or there."
Derek Lowe (3-2) retired the first 10 batters before Ryan Ludwick homered in a four-run sixth that put St. Louis ahead 5-2. Lowe was chased in the inning and fell to 1-7 with a 6.85 ERA against the Cardinals and 0-4 in four starts at new Busch Stadium.
"I didn't really know it, thank God, going in," Lowe said. "It's a great place to pitch, what I would consider almost pitcher-friendly. At least I don't have to pitch here again unless I see them in the playoffs."
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa batted the pitcher eighth for the first time since last July before the trade for Matt Holliday. He needed four pitchers to get out of the seventh inning as the Braves scored twice to cut the gap to 5-4 before Jason Heyward took a called third strike from Trever Miller with the bases loaded.
Carpenter (3-0) allowed two runs and three hits in six innings, beating the Braves for the first time since 2006 and raising his career mark against them to 3-2. Melky Cabrera and Lowe had run-scoring singles in the second, the latter Lowe's 16th career RBI, but the Braves' only other hit against Carpenter was an infield hit by Brian McCann to start the sixth.
Carpenter struck out both at-bats in the No. 8 slot ahead of Brendan Ryan and is hitless in 10 at-bats this season. La Russa shook up the lineup to stimulate the offense with what he described as a second leadoff man after the first time through the order.
"Tony has his reasons and I think everybody in here understands he's doing things for the best," Carpenter said. "He's not doing it just to do it, he has reasons behind it, and you have to respect it."
Molina's two-run single put the Cardinals ahead 4-2 and knocked out Lowe. Molina's RBI double broke an eighth-inning tie in a 4-3 victory Monday and he's 2 for 2 with six RBIs with the bases loaded after going 1 for 15 last year.
Blake Hawksworth's throwing error to the plate on Martin Prado's tapper with two men on led to two unearned runs in the seventh for the Braves, who added Jones' RBI infield hit. Jason Motte got the last five outs for his first save of the season and second of his career.
Closer Ryan Franklin did not warm up after getting saves the previous two games, leaving it to the hard-throwing right-hander who lost the closer job after one failure last season.
"You always think you can go out there and keep going," Motte said. "It feels good. I'm glad we won, mainly."
Ludwick hit his fourth homer just inside the left-field foul pole in the fourth and added an RBI double in the sixth. He's 8 for 13 with three homers and eight RBIs against Lowe.
* Troy Glaus was 0 for 3, flied out with a man on to end the game and walked twice, dropping his average to .515 (17 for 33) against the Cardinals.
* The Cardinals batted the pitcher eighth 55 times last year.
* Heyward was 0 for 3 with a walk and has one hit in his last 20 at-bats. "We're going to talk to him because he's taking way too many pitches for strikes," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.