Garcia earns longer stay with red-hot bat

Recently recalled infielder lifts batting average to .647

Garcia earns longer stay with red-hot bat

WASHINGTON -- Greg Garcia was supposed to be in Las Vegas on Saturday night, playing for the Memphis Redbirds of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. That was the plan, at least, before Garcia's hot bat turned him into a Nationals nightmare and Cardinals hero.

Garcia notched three hits Saturday -- an RBI single, a well-struck double and a bunt single -- to help the Cardinals to a 9-4 victory over the Nationals. The infielder, who was called up Thursday when Matt Carpenter was placed on paternity leave, is now 5-for-7 with three walks in this series and 11-for-17 on the season.

"That's just a young player taking advantage. Give a guy a chance and watch him run and let him do his thing," manager Mike Matheny said. "It's fun when you can bring up a young player and he's got that energy."

When Garcia was recalled, his stint in the Majors was supposed to be short-lived. The Cardinals figured he would fill in for two days, then return to Triple-A. But the 26-year-old went 2-for-3 with three walks, a home run and some dazzling defense in his first two games back. When Carpenter returned Saturday, St. Louis opted to designate Ruben Tejada for assignment and keep Garcia around.

Garcia rewarded the Cardinals' faith, driving in the game's first run on a line drive to left field in the second inning, then lacing a double to center in the sixth. When he came to the plate in the eighth with a man on first base, he noticed Stephen Drew playing back at third base. Despite his hot bat, Garcia dropped a perfect bunt down the foul line and easily beat out a single.

"That's a big part of my game," Garcia said. "It helps me, because once they start to know that I can bunt, they start to bring the third baseman in, and that opens up more holes for me to hit ground balls through."

The next batter, pinch-hitter Matt Adams roped a double to right field, scoring two runners, including Garcia.

Adams' double plates a pair

When the dust settled on the Cardinals' win, Garcia was batting .647 on the season, with two doubles, two home runs and 10 runs scored in 25 plate appearances.

When Garcia was called up, could he have even imagined things would go so well?

"I don't want to say no. You never go into a game thinking you're not going to get any hits," Garcia said, smiling. "But it's definitely been a good series so far."

Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.