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Molina bats cleanup, Kozma starts vs. Liriano

Molina bats cleanup, Kozma starts vs. Liriano

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Molina bats cleanup, Kozma starts vs. Liriano

PITTSBURGH -- A near-fixture as the team's five-hole hitter all season, catcher Yadier Molina was placed in the cleanup spot for Game 3 of the National League Division Series on Sunday as the Cardinals went right-handed heavy with the top half of their lineup against Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano.

Manager Mike Matheny bumped left-handed-hitting Matt Adams -- the team's regular cleanup hitter since Allen Craig went down with a foot injury -- behind Molina and David Freese for the afternoon affair. The matchup also prompted Matheny to insert Pete Kozma into the starting lineup for the first time this postseason. Daniel Descalso had been the team's starting shortstop in the first two games against Pittsburgh.

NLDS

"Today we had to make the adjustment to give us the best chance against a good left handed starter," Matheny said. "Having the ability to put Yadier Molina up in a different spot is a luxury. To us, we have a number of guys we can put in quite a few different roles, and they would fill those roles very effectively. So we feel fortunate to do that, and hopefully it will work out for us."

Molina, though, is still looking for his first hit of the season against Liriano. He went 0-for-6 in Liriano's three dominant starts against St. Louis this season. Of course, success was scarce for any of the Cards' position players.

Only three -- Carlos Beltran (3-for-10), Matt Carpenter (2-for-11) and Matt Holliday (3-for-9) -- had multiple hits off Liriano this season. The team combined for a total of two extra-base hits in Liriano's 24 innings. One of those was off the bat of backup catcher Tony Cruz.

With the Bucs scheduled to start a right-handed pitcher in Game 4 and Game 5, if Wednesday's game is necessary, the Cardinals will likely revert back to the lineup they used in the first two games of the series.

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

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