Found July 27, 2012 on
Fox Sports Midwest:
CHICAGO Lance Berkman doesn't believe the Atlanta Braves choked last year, coughing up a huge Wild Card lead in September to let the Cardinals sneak into the playoffs on the final day of the season.
The 14-year veteran instead thinks the Cardinals simply proved they were the better team over a full 162-game, six-month season. And with the Cardinals underachieving for much of the 2012 campaign to date, he thinks things could even out and happen again this year.
Berkman was one of five different Cardinals to hit a home run Friday in their 9-6 win at Wrigley Field, giving the visitors a four-game winning streak and seven victories in their past eight games.
Following a rough 1-5 road trip to start the second half of the season, the Cardinals have begun to turn things around. They improved their record to 54-46 and are eight games over .500 for the first time since they were 20-12 after a loss on May 11.
"It's a long season and that's why we keep preaching talent, talent, talent," Berkman said. " The teams that have talent over the course of 162 games generally find their stride and end up where they are supposed to be. Somebody asked me if the Braves collapsed last year or did you guys just, you know, and my answer is heck we won 91 games and over the course of 162 games, we were better, because we had more depth and just because it happened all at once - it just sorts itself out.
"Hopefully the same kind of thing will happen to this team his year. We've consistently in my opinion under performed in the win-loss column so to get back to where we need to be, we might play some great baseball."
The Cardinals wasted little time getting on the board at Wrigley following an impressive 6-1 home stand, taking a 1-0 lead on Matt Holliday's 18th home run of the season in the top of the first.
But Lance Lynn had one of his rougher outings of the season, allowing three runs to the first three hitters of the game to put the Cubs in front. On a day where the wind appeared to be blowing in, balls kept flying out of the friendly confines.
Yadier Molina's two-run blast as part of a four-run second inning put the Cardinals back up 5-3. Berkman hit a home run to left batting right-handed in the third, Matt Carpenter added a solo shot in the fourth and Allen Craig homered to left in the fifth to give the Cardinals five home runs in the first five innings of the game.
The Cardinals became the first team in franchise history to homer in five straight innings and the first team since the 2004 Astros to homer in the first five innings of a game. It's the second time this season that five different Cardinals have gone deep.
"I think this is definitely what we're capable of," said Craig. "It's difficult to maintain that for a full season but I think we have a really good offense and I wouldn't be surprised to see us keep going like we're going.
"It feels good to win a number of games in a row and get on a little bit of a streak here but we just have to keep it up and keep winning games. It's just a matter of time with the guys we have on this team that we're going put things together and win a lot of games."
Lynn finished with six earned runs in five innings but still picked up his 13th win of the season. His five-inning outing ended a run of 21 consecutive games in which Cardinals starters went at least six innings. It also ended a run of ten straight quality starts.
The Cardinals have the best run-differential in all of baseball at plus-97. Many of their wins have been blowouts and many of their losses have been close a trend that would typically even out over the course of the season and mean plenty of wins the final two months.
Friday's win moved the Cardinals to within five games of the division-leading Cincinnati Reds, who played at Colorado later Friday night. The Cardinals also climbed to within one game for the second Wild Card spot in the National League.
They went 22-9 during their historic finish to the regular season last fall. And while the run may be starting a month earlier, the Cardinals hope they are in store for more of the same.
"It's great but we just have to keep playing," said center fielder Jon Jay, who made a highlight reel diving catch over his shoulder in the fifth inning. "Every day is a new day and there's a lot of time left. We have a lot of ground to pick up but we have to take it one day at a time.
"We're one win away from winning a series, so that's big. We're just playing good baseball. That's what we need to do. I feel like we're playing good baseball but we just have to keep it up."
Impressive rookie Joe Kelly will start for the Cardinals on Saturday when they face the Cubs in game two of the three-game set at 12:05 p.m. on FOX Sports Midwest.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
CHICAGO -- Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran was out of the lineup for a second straight day Friday as manager Mike Matheny tries to get him going at the plate.
Beltran, who is hitting just .197 in July, has not started in four of the 14 games since the All-Star break.
"When I saw him two days ago, he was really fighting and I knew that one day probably wasn't going...
CHICAGO With Tuesday's trade deadline fast approaching, the St. Louis Cardinals must decide whether or not upgrades are needed to either their starting rotation or bullpen. Or both.
And for rookie starter Joe Kelly, he finds himself right in the middle of it.
If the Cardinals acquire a starter, the former college closer could be moved back to the bullpen to make way for the...
About this time last year, the St. Louis Cardinals were in dire need of pitching help. Adam Wainwright was out for the year, Jake Westbrook was struggling, and the bullpen was like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates.
Once again, this season, the Cards need some reinforcements for their pitching staff. Chris Carpenter is out for the year, Jaime Garcia is out until mid-August (best...
ST. LOUIS -- Now that's more like it.
A tough road trip in the rear-view mirror, the surging St. Louis Cardinals completed an impressive homestand Thursday afternoon with a 7-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Cardinals followed up a depressing 1-5 road trip with a 6-1 week at Busch Stadium that featured a three-game sweep of the rival Chicago Cubs and three wins...
CHICAGO -- The Oakland Athletics felt enough of Brian Fuentes that they decided they'd rather pay him the remaining portion of his 5 million salary to pitch for someone else.
And the Cardinals hope to take full advantage of it.
Looking to repair a struggling bullpen, the Cardinals took a chance on the veteran left-hander and added him to the big league roster on Wednesday following...
St. Louis Cardinals Double-A first baseman Xavier Scruggs is back with news from Springfield as his club chases the Texas League title.
Hot News for 3B David Freese
St. Louis Cardinals weekly chat on KXnO FOX Sports Radio 1460 in Des Moines.
Late Friday afternoon, I joined Jim Brinson and Joe Quinn on KXnO FOX Sports Radio 1460 in Des Moines in our regular series to discuss the St. Louis Cardinals, “Cardinal Talk.” We reviewed Friday’s win as the Cardinals continue in Chicago over the weekend.
Cardinals followers in central Iowa can again...
CHICAGO (AP) -- St. Louis rookie Joe Kelly is piling up plenty of positive impressions, just not a lot of wins.
Kelly wound up on the losing end again Saturday after pinch hitter Reed Johnson drove in the go-ahead with a bunt single in the seventh inning, giving the Chicago Cubs a 3-2 victory and ending the Cardinals' four-game winning streak.
Despite the loss, Kelly (1-4)...
CHICAGO (AP) -- The Cards almost had five of a kind.
Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina and Lance Berkman started a power show by the St. Louis Cardinals, who became the first team in eight years to hit a home run in each of the first five innings and went on to beat the Chicago Cubs 9-6 Friday.
Matt Carpenter and Allen Craig also connected off Travis Wood (4-6), whose five homers allowed...
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers lost their second straight game since acquiring Hanley Ramirez, 7-4 to St. Louis on Thursday as David Freese and Matt Carpenter each had three of the Cardinals' season-high 18 hits.
Obtained a day earlier from Miami, Ramiez started at third base and batted fifth for the second straight game. He had an infield hit, two walks and a steal...
The St. Louis Cardinals won the third of four against LA for their third victory in nine extra-inning games this season.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Thus far, Hanley Ramirez hasn't helped the Los Angeles Dodgers gain any wins.
St. Louis had a season-high 18 hits, including three apiece from David Freese and Matt Carpenter, and beat the Dodgers for the second straight game since the Ramirez trade, 7-4 Thursday.
"He definitely makes their lineup that much tougher," Jake Westbrook said. "So...