Who would have thunk the Lance Berkman the Cardinals signed over the winter was going to turn out to be THE Lance Berkman?
The Big Puma hit his fourth homer in three days Wednesday -- this time it was a grand slam -- to lead the Redbirds to a lopsided win over the Diamondbacks. It was the Cardinals first series win of the 2011 season.
While the Birds showed a ton of power in the Arizona series, the scoring started Wednesday with some small ball. With one out in the first, Colby Rasmus dropped a perfect bunt for hit. He went to third on an Albert Pujols double and, after Matt Holliday walked, Rasmus scored on a wild pitch. Pujols then scored on a Berkman grounder to second base.
In the second inning the Cardinals dropped six runs on Diamondbacks starter Ian Anderson starting with a single by backup catcher Gerald Laird after Skip Schumaker lined out. Starting pitcher Jake Westbrook struck out for the second out then Ryan Theriot reached base after being hit by a pitch. Rasmus doubled to score Laird and Theriot then Pujols walked and Matt Holliday was hit on the back of his hand by a pitch to load the bases.
After Holliday was visited for several minutes by the team trainer he was able to continue -- at least until manager Tony La Russa cleared his bench in the lopsided game -- Berkman blasted a grand slam to give St. Louis a commanding lead.
Eduardo Sanchez made his major league debut in the eighth inning. The righty pitcher struck out a pair in a perfect inning of work. He returned for the ninth and struck out the first batter he faced before surrendering his first major league hit. He recovered to get his fourth and fifth strikeouts in two innings of work to end the game.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Berkman whose 10 RBIs in the Arizona series were a personal best for the slugging outfielder and first baseman in a three-game set.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Berkman's grand slam.
Lowlight: It was disappointing to see Westbrook manage only 5 1/3 innings when he was spotted an early lead that at one point stood at 12-0. He gave up a disturbing nine hits and five runs in his time on the hill, although three of the hits shouldn't have happened and three of the runs were unearned after Albert Pujols failed to field what should have been an endind inning ground ball in the fifth.