Cards regain lead in Central

Friday, May 21, 2010
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and closer Ryan Franklin celebrate the Cardinals' 4-2 victory Thursday against the Marlins in St. Louis. (JEFF ROBERSON ~ Associated Press)

ST. LOUIS -- Two doubles and two RBIs qualifies as a monster day for Matt Holliday. So far, it's been a fairly weak season for the St. Louis Cardinals' big free agent pickup.

Holliday snapped a six-game RBI drought and drove in his first runs in four games since moving to third in the lineup, getting the go-ahead hit for Adam Wainwright in a 4-2 victory over the Florida Marlins on Thursday.

"It feels good to help the team win," Holliday said. "Anytime you do something to help the team, it's a gratifying feeling."

Hanley Ramirez had an RBI single and a walk for the Marlins, who lost for only the second time in eight games. Nate Robertson (4-4) faced an all-right-handed lineup and gave up four runs in six innings while taking the loss.

"We had a two-run lead early on Wainwright and you have to keep it there," Robertson said. "We both settled in but it was too little, too late for me."

Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols looks skyward after hitting a double during the fifth inning Thursday in St. Louis. (JEFF ROBERSON ~ Associated Press)

Chris Coghlan doubled off the top of the right-field wall to open the game and RBIs by Ramirez and Dan Uggla represented the first first-inning runs allowed by Wainwright (6-2) this season. Florida totaled four hits and had only two runners in scoring position the next six innings against the right-hander, who's 4-0 with a 2.10 ERA in four starts at home.

"If I'm missing over the plate, there's a reason for it," Wainwright said. "It's great when you can catch it early like that."

Holliday's two-run double in the second made it 4-2 and gave him 16 RBIs, sixth-best on the team, and he also doubled in the seventh and stole third. He flied out with two on and none out in the first and had been 8 for 51 with runners in scoring position before the two-run double.

The Cardinals offense has been scuffling, and Holliday has been one of the major reasons. He hadn't had an RBI off an extra-base hit since his fourth homer April 19, and none at home since the 2009 regular-season finale.

"I've said it a number of times, I think Matt's biggest problem is trying too hard, trying to force things," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "He looked a little more relaxed, a little more like himself."

No argument there.

"You want to be the guy to kind of bust out," Holliday said. "Sometimes you try too hard, sometimes you maybe force the issue instead of letting it come to you.

"I'm just as guilty as anybody else."

The Cardinals are 3-1 since Holliday and Pujols switched spots in the order, although La Russa considers it a temporary arrangement. St. Louis regained first place in the NL Central after three days out of the lead.

The Marlins had two hits, a walk and a 1-0 lead after the first three batters against Wainwright, who allowed a sacrifice fly and had two of his eight strikeouts to finish a 30-pitch inning.

Wainwright retreated to the clubhouse to watch video after the first, noticed his delivery had been out of whack and administered a quick fix.

"We were expecting to build on that," Uggla said. "You know, Wainwright had other ideas for us. He shut us down."

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