ST. LOUIS -- In a year where Peter Bourjos went from starting in center field to being buried on the bench, he has had to wait until September to see the payoff of the swing changes he made in June.
Limited playing time has left Bourjos to carry around the confidence generated from his early-summer work with the club's hitting coaches without much opportunity to show it off. Yet he parlayed a two-hit game on Tuesday into a rare start against a right-handed pitcher on Wednesday and ended that game with the second walk-off hit of his career, giving the Cardinals a 1-0 win over the Pirates.
"The last few days, I feel like I put some good swings on the ball and got rewarded," Bourjos said. "Things are starting to fall in."
Bourjos points to the Cardinals' visit to Colorado in June as the turning point for his season. Something clicked during his pregame hitting sessions during that stop. Over the next two months, though, he made only 12 starts, which meant limited opportunities to put the work into play.
"[Hitting coach] John Mabry has come up to me a number of times talking to me about how he really likes where Peter is and that he's making these improvements and always lobbying to try and reward these guys," manager Mike Matheny said. "It's just been hard to get him time. He thinks he has more to bring to the table, and I do, too. Now he's showing it and making it obvious to everyone."
Matheny's challenge remains finding time for four players -- Bourjos, Jon Jay, Oscar Taveras and Randal Grichuk -- to cover two positions. Bourjos' assignments have come mostly against left-handed pitching, though both of his hits on Wednesday were off righties.
"You have to go up there and have a real simple approach and not do too much, because you're going to get in trouble," Bourjos said. "I try to go up and execute early in the count. It's tough just overall to have timing and momentum in the batter's box [with limited at-bats]. You have to find a way to be comfortable when you do get in there and try to take advantage of it."