Matheny drops Furcal, bats Schumaker leadoff

Matheny drops Furcal, bats Schumaker leadoff

ST. LOUIS -- Keeping in mind the success Skip Schumaker has had against Cubs starter Ryan Dempster, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny penciled in Schumaker at the leadoff spot on Friday. Rafael Furcal, who hasn't hit nearly as well against Dempster in the past, will bat eighth.

Schumaker owns a .431 (22-for-51) career average against Dempster, while Furcal is batting .143 (6-for-42) against the Cubs right-hander.

"We want to get Raffy a little more comfortable at the plate, and this is an opportunity to take a little pressure off of him at the top of the lineup," Matheny said. "Skip has been swinging the bat well. We have to try and get something going at the top of the lineup."

Furcal set a scorching pace out of the gates in 2012, and was batting .333 at the end of May. He's progressively cooled off, however, and his average was last above .300 on June 10. Since then, Furcal has hit .212 in his 30 games to bring his average down to .274.

Schumaker leads the Cardinals with a .318 average over 129 at-bats this season. He's batting .478 (11-for-23) in his last 11 games.

"You just try to be consistent and not try to make huge adjustments because that's when you get on a roller-coaster type thing," Schumaker said before Friday's game. "You just try to get your work in when you're not playing every day, you just try to do everything you can each day to prepare."