Cardinals 4, Diamondbacks 2

Fortified by a pregame pep talk from the St. Louis Cardinals’

two hitting instructors, David Freese belted his first home run in

almost three months.

Freese hit a tiebreaking two-run shot in the third inning and

Jaime Garcia won for the sixth time at home as the Cardinals beat

the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2 on Sunday for a four-game split

heading into the All-Star break. Freese said he had a 20-minute

discussion with Mark McGwire and instructor Mike Aldrete ”about me

just being me.”

”I’m not trying to prove I can do this or do that,” Freese

said. ”Just put an ‘A’ swing on it and let things happen.”

Albert Pujols had two hits and Matt Holliday had an RBI single

and a walk for the Cardinals, who are tied with the Brewers for the

NL Central lead and have a roster finally healthy for the second


They’re 3-3 since getting Pujols back from the DL and Freese

prospered batting fifth after going 2 for 12 the previous three

games batting second. Manager Tony La Russa said he might hit

Freese second again against left-handers but likes him a lot more

behind the big three of Holliday, Pujols and Lance Berkman.

”I don’t really get mixed up with all that,” Freese said.

”Maybe I feel more comfortable down there, I don’t know. It’s just

nice to be in the lineup.”

Ryan Roberts hit a two-run homer for the Diamondbacks, who

completed a 5-5 trip and are in second place in the NL West.

”If they told you this scenario in spring training, you’d take

it by all means,” said Eric Young, who singled, walked and scored

a run. ”I think any almost team in baseball would take that for

right now.

”You’re still in a good position. That’s good, that’s good

news,” Young added.

The Cardinals won with the 80th different lineup in 82 games

under manager Tony La Russa, who got away with giving rookie backup

catcher Tony Cruz his first career start in right field. Cruz made

a nice sliding catch on a short flyout by Henry Blanco in the

fourth and was replaced for defense in the sixth, with Colby Rasmus

going to center and Jon Jay moving to right.

”Everybody in the dugout got charged up when he made that

catch,” La Russa said. ”That’s not what he was there to do, he’s

just got to make the routine play, but he’s an athlete.”

Roberts’ two-run shot in the second was the only damage against

Garcia, who entered with a major league best 0.94 ERA at home and

ended the day 6-1 at Busch Stadium with a 1.14 ERA in nine starts.

Garcia (9-3) leads the staff in victories a year after finishing

third in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting and has won his last

three starts overall.

”I’m feel really good because obviously I’m healthy. The

numbers, they’re good, too,” Garcia said. ”But I’m not going to

get satisfied or comfortable.”

Freese answered in the third with his first homer in 13 games

off the disabled list from a broken left hand, a two-run

opposite-field shot off Zach Duke (2-4) to right. He had been 3 for

24 with no RBIs the previous seven games and in 41 at-bats since

returning from a 51-game absence had totaled one double and one


The homer was also the first at home for Freese, a St. Louis

native, since May 2, 2010 against the Reds.

Fernando Salas worked the ninth for his 16th save in 18 chances,

giving up a hit with a strikeout.

Duke gave up four runs in six innings. He’s 1-4 in eight starts

since June 2 and paid dearly for his only walk to Matt Holliday

with two outs in the third, one at-bat before Freese connected.

”We’d like to have better,” manager Kirk Gibson said ”He’s

battling. We’d like to have better from everybody and that goes for

me, too.”

The Cardinals got three straight hits in the first, including a

double by Pujols and an RBI single by Holliday, and Freese made it

2-0 with a sacrifice fly.

Roberts tied it in the second with a two-run homer, his 11th of

the year and first since June 12. It’s only the second allowed at

home this season by Garcia.

”He left a pitch in to me, a fastball in,” Roberts said. ”I

just had to lay off the offspeed stuff.”

NOTES: RHP Jake Westbrook (7-4, 5.34) will open the second half

for the Cardinals at Cincinnati on Friday, followed by Chris

Carpenter (4-7, 3.85) and Garcia. Westbrook has the highest ERA on

the rotation and trailed the Reds 5-0 after only 12 pitches on

Tuesday. … Lance Berkman got a scheduled day off, according to La

Russa, unrelated to Berkman’s upcoming All-Star game appearance.

Berkman flied out to the warning track in center as a pinch hitter

in the sixth. … Rasmus was 4 for 22 during the seven-game

homestand. … Yadier Molina hit his 19th double, matching his

total from last season. … Stephen Drew is 2 for 2 as a pinch

hitter after singling in the ninth.