Beltran, Cardinals open series with Braves

1:01 PM, May 11, 2012   |    comments
outfielder Carlos Beltran bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
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(Sports Network) - He's no Albert Pujols, but St. Louis veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran has been slugging his way into the hearts of Cardinals fans.

Beltran and the National League Central-leading Cardinals will return to the Gateway City tonight to open a five-game homestand with the first of three versus the Atlanta Braves. St. Louis went 4-2 on a six-game road trip against Houston and Arizona, and is coming off a three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks.

In Wednesday's 7-2 victory in the desert, Allen Craig homered, Matt Holliday had two hits and two RBI and Rafael Furcal finished with four hits and a run scored. David Freese ended 3-for-4 and scored a run, while Beltran drove in a run and also scored for the Cardinals, who have won nine of 13 games. Beltran is riding a five-game hitting streak with three homers and nine RBI in that time. He is batting .284 this season to go along with 10 homers and 27 RBI.

"It's nice to come in here and finish (the sweep) off and get out of here on a good note," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.

Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse gave up just one run on seven hits in five innings of work and added a base hit and a run scored at the plate. Jason Motte tossed a perfect ninth inning for his sixth save.

Former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who won two World Series titles with the club, will have his No. 10 jersey retired tonight in a pre-game ceremony. It will be the 12th number retired in Cardinals history.

"Tony was at the helm of one of those great eras. Tony's success here speaks for itself. He's just a giant in the game of baseball, a sure-fire Hall of Famer," Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright told the team's website. "He brought a lot to this organization and this club and taught us a lot as players. It's well-deserved."

St. Louis is scheduled to host the Chicago Cubs for two games on the residency and will place pitching duties on Jaime Garcia Friday night. Garcia has lost his last two starts after opening the year 2-0 with a 2.49 ERA in his first four outings, and had his worst appearance of the year in Saturday's 8-2 loss at Houston. He was tagged for six runs and four hits over six innings.

Garcia, a left-hander, will make his fourth career start against Atlanta and is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA through the first three.

Atlanta will begin its last leg of a nine-game road trip and dropped two of three matchups to the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

The Braves, who are one-half game out of first in the NL East, suffered a 1-0 loss Wednesday on Bryan LaHair's RBI single in the seventh inning with two outs. Braves starter Tim Hudson was saddled with the loss despite tossing seven innings and allowing five hits. Martin Prado had a team-best two hits for Atlanta, which entered the game having won five of seven games.

"It was just unfortunate today, we couldn't really get anything going. And when we did, we hit a ball right at somebody," said Braves third baseman Chipper Jones.

Michael Bourn (0-for-4) had a 12-game hitting streak snapped.

Getting the ball for the Braves tonight will be Mike Minor and he is 2-2 with a 5.97 earned run average in six starts this season. He is 0-1 in his previous three appearances since posting back-to-back victories and did not record a decision in Saturday's 13-9 win at Colorado in which he allowed eight runs and 10 hits in five innings. Minor has been banged around a bit lately, yielding a total of 18 runs in the past three starts.

Minor is 1-1 in four starts on the road and will face St. Louis for just the second time in his career. The right-hander started against the Cardinals on Sept. 10, 2010 in an 8-6 Atlanta win and did not figure into the outcome after permitting four runs and seven hits in five innings.

Atlanta and St. Louis are meeting for the first time since the Cardinals took five of six encounters a year ago. St. Louis is 11-3 in the past 14 matchups between the two ballclubs.

 

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