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Adams cleans up in return to Cards' lineup

Adams cleans up in return to Cards' lineup

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Adams cleans up in return to Cards' lineup

MILWAUKEE -- A bulky elbow brace was waiting on Matt Adams when he arrived at Miller Park on Friday, two days after the first baseman had to exit a game due to right elbow irritation.

Adams described the brace as "stricter" than the one he wore last season before he had to undergo season-ending surgery to remove bone chips from around his elbow. He tested his swing wearing the brace on Friday afternoon and said afterward that he was not concerned about it restricting his extension.

He then made that assertion widely known in the series opener.

Making his second career start as a cleanup hitter, Adams reached base four times. He delivered the game-tying hit in the seventh and a go-ahead, two-run homer that measured an estimated 436 feet in the ninth. It was Adams' sixth home run since he stepped in for an injured Allen Craig on Sept. 4.

"Obviously, that brace on his arm doesn't affect him too much because he had great at-bats right from the top," manager Mike Matheny said. "A gutsy performance from the fact that they were considering [on Wednesday] that maybe we would have to go get this [elbow] looked at a little bit deeper. He just wanted to play. That's huge for a young player to realize that at this time of the year, something is going to be off just a little bit, but if I can trust the medical team that I'm not going to hurt myself worse and I just have to grind through."

Matheny moved Adams up to the four-hole mostly because he wanted to take Carlos Beltran out of it. Since Craig injured his foot, Beltran has hit .191 with three doubles, no homers and seven RBIs as the team's cleanup hitter. In contrast, he had a .317/.345/.545 slash line in 79 games hitting second this year. Nineteen of his 23 homers and 50 RBIs have come in those games. He added another two RBIs - including the game-winning one - batting from the second spot on Friday.

"We need to get Carlos going," Matheny said. "That's all there is to it. For whatever reason, in that second spot, he's had good success. We want him feeling right. [We're] trying to make small changes here and there and get somebody going in the right direction. You never know."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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