Bourjos makes most of rare opportunity

Cardinals outfielder triples, singles and makes a great catch in start

Bourjos makes most of rare opportunity

ST. LOUIS -- Placing his confidence in Peter Bourjos' career success against Aaron Harang (7-for-15) and not the outfielder's season start (1-for-10 with a .250 OBP), manager Mike Matheny made the somewhat unexpected move of placing the speedy center fielder in the leadoff spot Wednesday.

Bourjos took the opportunity -- just his second start all season -- and ran with it. Literally.

His footprints were all over the Cardinals' 5-2 win over the Phillies, sparking a four-run inning with a triple, scoring on a hard chopper that hardly went beyond the infield grass and then sprinting down what Chase Utley surely thought to be a run-scoring extra-base hit.

"I really wanted to go out and have four or five good at-bats tonight and help the team win, run some balls down and play good defense," Bourjos said. "Then to come out and have a couple hits and help the team win, it's really special. It's not an easy thing to do, but I think it's more enjoyable when you're in a tough [part-time] role and you go out and have some success."

Though Bourjos has now appeared in 12 of the team's 20 games, his entrance has typically come as a late-game pinch-runner or defensive replacement. In eight of those games, Bourjos didn't see the field until at least the seventh inning.

It's been a frustrating set of circumstances for the outfielder, who was so encouraged this spring about how loose his swing felt following offseason hip surgery. Finding traction without playing time, however, has been tough. But the way in which he's handled the role led to the reception he received afterward.

"You could hear the guys when he walked in, they were real excited for him," Matheny said. "His attitude and how he goes about his business, he just shines in that clubhouse. He was a game-changer today."

Matheny on importance of Bourjos

"Everybody knows the tools that he has, so to see them on display tonight was fun," added Kolten Wong. "Peter, he has that extra gear that a lot of guys don't have. That's special what he has."

Bourjos tied the game as he legged out a triple against Harang in the fifth. Then, running on contact, he was on the favorable end of a bang-bang play at the plate after first baseman Ryan Howard fielded a chopper and threw home. The Phillies unsuccessfully challenged the call.

Call at home stands

"We have some guys who can run in this game," Matheny said, "but not many who can run like that."

With two out and a runner on first in the seventh, Bourjos then chased down Utley's fly ball deep into the right-center-field gap, capping a solid defensive night all around by the Cards.

Bourjos covers distance for out

"I felt like I had a pretty good jump on it," Bourjos said. "If that ball is hit during the day, that ball might go out."

Bourjos finished with a two-hit night, tallying both off Harang, who, afterward, described Bourjos as a "pesky hitter" and evoked a comparison to David Eckstein, who finished his career 16-for-43 against the righty.

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