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Adams gets breather until pinch-hit strikeout

Slumping St. Louis slugger out of starting lineup, can't deliver off bench in ninth

Adams gets breather until pinch-hit strikeout

MIAMI -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny mentioned recently he would give everyday first baseman Matt Adams a breather. That moment finally arrived on Tuesday for the second game of the series against the Marlins, as Adams was replaced by Mark Ellis in the starting lineup.

Adams went 0-for-5 and hit into a double play on Monday night. Although Matheny took some comfort in the way Adams swung the bat in the 6-5 loss -- he might have had at least one hit if not for the Marlins' outstanding defense -- it was time for the slumping first baseman to sit back.

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That didn't keep Matheny from bringing Adams in to pinch-hit in the ninth inning of Tuesday's 3-0 loss, though. The Cardinals had runners on the corners and two outs. Prior to Tuesday, Adams was 1-for-7 in those situations.

His numbers didn't improve, as Marlins southpaw Mike Dunn, against whom left-handed hitters were batting .197, struck out Adams to end the game.

Since the All-Star break, Adams has hit .212 with one homer, nine RBIs and two walks in 21 games. That's a drastic fall from the .336 average he was riding after coming back from the disabled list in June. From June 13-July 13, Adams drove in 14 runs, scored 15 times and slugged .636. That span of 29 games saw him strike out 21 times in 107 at-bats -- he's already struck out 20 times in 85 second-half at-bats.

"I think he realizes that he's grinding right now," Matheny said. "It's a fair expectation that [young players are] gonna go through that. He's been extremely consistent, and we'd like to see him continue to be consistent through the rest of August, September and hopefully October."

If the Cardinals are able to continue their success, resting Adams might be something Matheny does even more often. The 25-year-old had appeared in 102 of the Cardinals' 117 games entering Tuesday night. The most games he'd ever logged in his professional career was 121 in 2010.

"You have a guy who hasn't been that every-single-day guy at this level," Matheny said. "Every once in a while we need to give his mind a break, more so than just the body. I think there's a benefit to that."

Meanwhile, Ellis hasn't made a start at first base since he was with the Athletics in 2011. The 37-year-old had just two appearances at first this season, but since Allen Craig was traded, Ellis has been taking grounders there more often.

He made the most of the opportunity, collecting two hits to bring his average a little closer to .200 while making a few good picks at first.

Maria Torres is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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