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Notes: Heat brings lineup changes

Notes: Heat brings lineup changes

ST. LOUIS -- With oppressive heat enveloping St. Louis this week, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is looking for chances to rest his regulars. On Tuesday, it was David Eckstein's turn.

The Cardinals shortstop sat out against Padres ace Jake Peavy, with Aaron Miles getting the start at short. Miles batted ninth, while second baseman Adam Kennedy took Eckstein's customary place atop the lineup.

"Everybody is getting rested somewhere," La Russa said. "You've got to keep the guys fresh the best you can."

Right-handed hitters are batting .175 against Peavy this year, which quite certainly figured into the manager's decision, although he wouldn't acknowledge that in his pregame news conference.

"When I put a lineup together, I have different considerations and they make sense to me," he said. "So that's the lineup I write."

Out of the Cardinals' left-handed and switch-hitting batters, only Scott Spiezio didn't find himself in the starting lineup. Ryan Ludwick, who has displayed a reverse platoon split, started in right field in place of Juan Encarnacion. Chris Duncan batted second, with Jim Edmonds cleaning up.

More on Maroth: La Russa elaborated Tuesday on the Cardinals' decision not to have Mike Maroth examined by a doctor sooner. Maroth told reporters on Monday night that he first started feeling some discomfort in his elbow several days before he was examined and placed on the disabled list.

"During the week, his elbow started getting stiffer, and he let us know that he would need extra time to get loose, to get ready," La Russa said. "Then he started getting work on his elbow. It didn't prevent him, once he got loose, from pitching. Once we got back, he was diagnosed with tendinitis. Mild, but still."

Despite the discomfort and a deep slump, the Cards chose to wait until they returned from a week-long road trip to have Maroth checked out by Dr. George Paletta.

"We were on the road," La Russa said. "We knew we'd get him looked at when we got home. It's not the smartest thing to get him looked at by [opposing] team doctors if you can avoid it."

Molina rebounding: Yadier Molina has emerged from a slump that saw his on-base percentage dip to .308. Molina struggled badly in his first few weeks after he came off the disabled list following a wrist injury. Since July 26, though, he's 11-for-32 (.344) with seven walks. Molina's OBP has climbed to a more respectable .331 in that time, though his slugging percentage remains mired at .313.

"I just think he's a tough out so I always expect him to be good," La Russa said. "He was out for a long time, and he jumped right back into catching and hitting. That's a tough package."

In past years, Molina had a tendency to give in to slumps. Previous slides have torpedoed whole half-seasons for the catcher, so his rebound is encouraging.

MVP? The Cardinals' struggles this season are certainly likely to hinder Albert Pujols' chances at a second National League Most Valuable Player Award. However, according to one metric, Pujols has in fact been the most valuable National Leaguer thus far in 2007.

By Baseball Prospectus' Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP) measure, Pujols has been over half a win more valuable than any other player in the NL. Pujols' WARP rating stands at 8.0 wins above a replacement player, with Miguel Cabrera in second at 7.4. WARP measures both offensive and defensive contributions.

Russell update: According to the Web site of the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, Cardinals Draft pick Kyle Russell is "still waiting for [an] official offer." Russell, an outfielder from the University of Texas, was St. Louis' fourth-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. He set Texas' all-time single-season home run record with 28 in 223 at-bats (63 games).

This date in Cardinals history: On Aug. 7, 2004, Molina's ninth-inning single was the game-ender in a 2-1 Cardinals win over the Mets. Molina's single up the middle scored Edmonds. It was the then-rookie's seventh career RBI. New York had walked new St. Louis acquisition Larry Walker to load the bases, and Molina made the Mets pay for the decision.

Baby 'Birds: Skip Schumaker homered, doubled and singled in Triple-A Memphis' 5-3 loss to Portland on Monday. Blake Hawksworth struck out seven against two walks, but allowed four runs including a pair of home runs in five innings. ... Double-A Springfield was held to four singles in its 3-0 loss to Tulsa. ... Tyler Norrick was rocked for nine runs on seven hits and five walks in 4 1/3 innings as Class A Palm Beach lost to Dunedin, 11-3. ... Four players had three hits each for Class A Quad Cities, which beat West Michigan, 8-4.

Andrew Brown hit a home run and a double for short-season Batavia, which lost to Williamsport, 6-3. ... Mike Folli was 3-for-4 with a double in Rookie-level Johnson City's 8-2 loss to Kingsport. ... The Gulf Coast League Cardinals split a doubleheader with the GCL Mets, losing 11-6 and winning 6-4. Osvaldo Morales homered in the win.

Player of the day honors go to Quad Cities' Daryl Jones, who posted his fifth multi-hit game in the last nine. Jones went 3-for-5 with a walk and two stolen bases. He was the Cardinals' third-round Draft pick in 2005.

Coming up: The Cardinals and Padres play the third game of their four-game series on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Greg Maddux will take the mound for San Diego, aiming for career win No. 341, while Kip Wells pitches for St. Louis.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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