Cardinals DH leads off for first time since '99

Cardinals DH leads off for first time since '99

BALTIMORE -- Manager Mike Matheny's decision to disperse his designated-hitter duties in order to get various players a day of defensive rest led him to make the unique move of placing his DH atop the lineup on Sunday.

With Matt Carpenter assigned the DH role for the team's final Interleague game of the season, the Cardinals featured a DH leading off for the first time since 1999. Shawon Dunston did it three times for manager Tony La Russa that season. One year earlier, Willie McGee (three times) and Brian Hunter (once) had also served as a leadoff DH.

"It wasn't my goal to make history, but to try and give these guys the kind of time," Matheny said. "Matt has been just an absolute rock for us. You hate losing that bat at the top of the lineup, so we're going to keep him in there, but give him a little bit of time off. He'll be grinding. It's not like a full day off. But I think his body may benefit from it."

Carpenter has started a team-high 113 of 115 games, with all of his appearances before Sunday coming at third base. This marked the first time in Carpenter's career that he had filled the DH slot. Matheny previously used the DH addition in this series to give Matt Holliday and Jhonny Peralta a break from the field.

Matheny had also considered Matt Adams, who has started 28 consecutive games, as a DH option, but ultimately went with Carpenter because Adams was spelled a period of rest while nursing left calf tightness in early June.

With Carpenter's respite from third base, Daniel Descalso earned the opportunity to build on Saturday's three-hit game with a second consecutive start.

"The day he had yesterday," Matheny said, "absolutely deserves him getting back in there."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for 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.