Pirates' defensive gem prolongs Bourjos' slow start

Pirates' defensive gem prolongs Bourjos' slow start

PITTSBURGH -- It has not been the smoothest start to his Cardinals career for Peter Bourjos, who has had two defensive mishaps and entered Saturday hitless in 10 at-bats. He seemed poised to insert some crooked numbers into his batting average on Friday but was denied that first hit on a sensational defensive play by Pirates catcher Russell Martin.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle called it "borderline Cirque de Soleil" after the game. A day later, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny described it as "one of the better bunt defensive plays I've seen."

Trying to bunt his way to first, Bourjos pushed a pitch down the third-base line as he led off the fifth inning. Martin pounced on the ball, spun while planting his feet and threw the speedy Bourjos out on a bang-bang play.

"To go down on a knee like that, to come up … a lot of times when a catcher tries to pull that off, the back foot slips a little bit," Matheny said. "I think he showed off a lot of his athleticism there. It was a very, very impressive play. There are not many catchers in the league who are going to pull that off. I think ours is one. Theirs is another. Not a whole lot of other guys will make that play."

There were no signs of a looming slow start for Bourjos, who hit .324 in 37 spring at-bats. He continues to hit eighth in the Cardinals' lineup against right-handed starters and, as was the case with Francisco Liriano on the mound Saturday, seventh against lefties.

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.