Baseball / Sports

Bourjos and Wainwright lead Cardinals past Braves

ATLANTA -- Adam Wainwright batted .211 last year, which probably is a little higher than he's supposed to hit. He's a pitcher.

Peter Bourjos was batting .154 before the Cardinals got to Turner Field this week. He's an outfielder and that is not a good average, one that Wainwright might even disdain.

Together, that twosome batted .625 on Wednesday night as the Cardinals snatched the decisive game of a three-game series from the Atlanta Braves, 7-1.

Bourjos, who had eight hits for the Cardinals in the first five weeks of the season, had five in two starts this week against the Braves.

After hitting his first Cardinals homer in the second on lefthander Mike Minor's first pitch to him, the former Los Angeles Angels outfielder singled and scored in the fourth and drove in another run in the fifth. In his first visit to Turner Field, Bourjos said he really didn't want to leave.

Bourjos probably was going to start Friday in Pittsburgh against lefthander Francisco Liriano, but manager Mike Matheny said to expect more of a regular diet of Bourjos.

"I hope so," said Bourjos. "Coming into the last few days, when I hadn't been playing, I just wanted to get an opportunity and take advantage of it and play well and earn more playing time."

When the series was over, Bourjos had put 63 points on his average and had smacked his first home run since he connected off Seattle ace Felix Hernandez last June 20. On both occasions, Bourjos raced around the bases.

"I don't want to show anybody up," said Bourjos.

Wainwright, who vowed before the season he was going to win the Silver Slugger for pitchers, had two hits, raising his average to .400, and scored two runs as he raised his won-lost mark to 6-2 as the National League's first six-game victor.

This start followed his worst outing of the season last Friday in Chicago, when he was cuffed for 10 hits and six runs in five innings.

"I did a lot of film work," said Wainwright. "I got my timing back to where it needed to be and was able to make some good adjustments.

"The timing of your delivery is very important and last time I was breaking my hands a little late, which was causing me to be very sporadic with my control."

The former Atlanta draft pick, who had to navigate five doubles in the first six innings, beat his homestate Braves for the eighth time in 10 decisions.

Inasmuch as Wainwright threw just 13 pitches total in the seventh and eighth to get to 103 for the game, he was hoping he had enough ammunition to persuade Matheny to leave him in for the ninth.

"Apparently he was bulletproof," said Wainwright, smiling. "It didn't matter what kind of ammo I was shooting. He'd had enough of me after eight. I've got an off day (extra day of rest) coming up and he didn't care much about that either."

Matheny said, with a small sigh, "There's always debate. It doesn't matter if he's thrown 130 pitches. His efficiency in those two clean innings definitely gave him more excitement about his argument."

Although it has been nearly 11 years since he was traded by the Braves, along with pitchers Jason Marquis and Ray King for outfielder J.D. Drew and catcher Eli Marrero, Wainwright still has a motivation to pitch well in Atlanta.

"More than anything, it's the amount of friends who are Braves fans," he said. "They're cheering for me a little bit. They want me to go eight and get a no-decision.

"I've got some really close friends who are now Cardinals fans, and I've got some apparently not-so-close friends that are still Braves fans.

"I do know a ton of people at home (in Brunswick, Ga.), and throughout the city of Atlanta that are longtime acquaintances and are huge Braves fans." Then, pounding his fist into his other hand, Wainwright said, "It adds a shot to the rib cage for them."

Matheny said he could see Wainwright's motivation being high in Atlanta, where he is 4-1. "Never discount that," said Matheny.

"Half the people in Milwaukee never even realized I was ever a player there, but I always enjoyed going back to the team I came up with. His is even deeper being a Georgia kid. You don't forget that.

"You head into your first pro team like that's the place you're going to be for your entire life."

Wainwright not only is hitting .400 for this season at eight for 20, but since last July 26, he also is hitting .400 at 18 for 45. There's been some coaching going on here.

"I'm a new man," said Wainwright.

"Mike Aldrete and some of the other coaches that have spent a lot of time ... it's good to know from their end that (the pitchers) were actually working on things to get better and not just hacking it up," Wainwright said.

Matheny said that bench coach Aldrete and hitting coaches John Mabry and David Bell had devised a batting practice plan for the pitchers whereby "they're not just trying to hit home runs, but they're working on something."

Matt Carpenter also had three hits, scored two runs and drove in another besides making two good defensive plays in the second inning at third base, where he had struggled, causing him to ask for extra defensive work before the game.

"When you least expect it is when you have a game like that," said Carpenter. "I'd say it was a good day."

Matt Holliday, likewise, had three hits and hiked his batting average with men in scoring position to .444 as he knocked in three runs.

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CARDINALS


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