Pedro Feliz in lineup, batting fifth
"He's here and we needed him," manager Tony La Russa said. "I just know he has a knack for being tough with men in scoring position and plays an excellent third base. He's a real good fit and we'll see how it goes."
Feliz batted only .221 with four homers and 31 RBIs for Houston and lost his regular third base job. But La Russa said Friday night that the team needed him and that the matchup against San Francisco Giants rookie left-hander Madison Bumgarner fit Feliz. The Cardinals had lost four straight and were 3½ games behind the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central.
"I'm happy to be in this situation," Feliz said. "I'm not a .220 hitter."
Rookie Chris Johnson has been starting for the Astros and was batting .340.
"No excuses, it wasn't happening and they decided to put another guy at third and I was playing once in a while," Feliz said. "Sometimes I'd get a couple of hits in a game and didn't play for the next five days.
"I'm ready to go," he said.
The Cardinals had envisioned an all-purpose role when they signed Lopez in the offseason, and La Russa said Lopez would get all the playing time he deserved.
Center fielder Colby Rasmus missed his third straight start with a strained right calf and left-hander Dennys Reyes was unavailable with an elbow strain. Reyes last pitched on Sunday and said he might be out a few more games but was able to play catch.
The Cardinals solidified the rotation and have rookie Jaime Garcia pitching Sunday on regular rest, bumping Kyle Lohse to Monday at Pittsburgh. Pitching coach Dave Duncan said the move was based on matchups.
Outfielder Nick Stavinoha was optioned to Triple-A Memphis to make room for Feliz. He's recovered from a shoulder injury and will play regularly in the outfield in the minors and figures to be among the September callups.
"The only positive to the situation is I'll get more at-bats," Stavinoha said. "My bat has always carried me."
Reliever Jason Motte, on the DL since Aug. 4 with a shoulder injury, is scheduled to throw in the bullpen on Saturday.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press