CINCINNATI -- Jon Jay stated his case for more playing time at center field on Saturday night, going 3-for-4 and making a pair of nice defensive plays.
In the second inning, he tracked a fly ball off the bat of Scott Rolen to the wall, saving a potential extra-base hit. Then, with a runner on second and one out in the fifth, Jay snagged a shallow fly ball and doubled up Drew Stubbs at second to end the inning.
Of his three hits, Jay's fifth-inning bunt single proved to be the most important. With two outs and a runner on first, he laid down a roller that crawled down the third-base line, allowing him to reach safely and extend the inning. Albert Pujols followed with the go-ahead homer.
Jay gave the Cards some insurance in the seventh with a two-out single up the middle, plating Skip Schumaker from second.
"That's about as complete as you can play," manager Tony La Russa said after the game.
La Russa added that Jay's strong play made the manager consider starting him in a 3-1 loss on Sunday in place of everyday center fielder Colby Rasmus, something he ultimately decided not to do. But Jay, who walked as a pinch-hitter in the eighth, has been surging lately, making him a popular option with Rasmus struggling.
Rasmus finished Sunday hitting .185 (24-for-130) since June 1. Jay, who has started 13 games in center field this year compared to Rasmus' 83, hit .275 during that same stretch with 10 fewer at-bats.
"Whatever the situation is, I just try to capitalize on it," Jay said. "It's a long season, so I got to keep the same mindset the whole year."