Move to leadoff spot has reignited Carpenter

Cardinals third baseman swinging a hot bat

Move to leadoff spot has reignited Carpenter

MILWAUKEE -- Lineup construction was a major topic of discussion for Cardinals manager Mike Matheny this weekend and Matt Carpenter's name was a key talking point. Matheny ultimately determined the leadoff spot was where Carpenter belonged.

Carpenter continued to prove his manager right on Sunday, as the third baseman crushed a go-ahead three-run home run in the seventh inning of the Cardinals' 5-4 loss to the Brewers. The homer gave him an extra-base hit in each of his last six games, including his blast to lead off Saturday's game.

"Big at-bat," Matheny said of Carpenter's homer. "We were almost able to steal a game. It looks a lot like what we saw from him early in the season. I think it just proves to him that [the early season production] wasn't necessarily a fluke."

Since Matheny slotted Carpenter back in the leadoff spot on July 30, Carpenter is batting .375 (15-for-40) with a National League-best seven home runs in 10 games.

"I don't think you can rule that out," Matheny said of Carpenter's success since returning to the top of the lineup. "I think he was going to put together these types of at-bats sooner or later anyhow."

Runs have been difficult to come by for the Cardinals at times this season, and injuries to middle-of-the-order bats such as Matt Holliday and Matt Adams recently haven't helped. The team relied heavily on rookies Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty to take two of three games from the Brewers.

But Carpenter has been the steady force for St. Louis of late. His 17 home runs this season are a single-season high for a left-handed-hitting third baseman in club history and he entered Sunday's game leading the NL in slugging percentage (1.028) and OPS (1.478) since July 30.

"He changes the rhythm of our offense," Matheny added. "He sets the tone and puts together good at-bats. He's a game-changer and right now, he fits at the top [of the lineup]."

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