Cards stick with Barton in leadoff spot

Cards stick with Barton in leadoff spot

ST. LOUIS -- With the Cardinals riding a four-game winning streak and another lefty on the mound for the Nationals, right-handed-hitting outfielder Brian Barton was in the leadoff spot for the third consecutive game on Sunday.

The 25-year-old Barton, a Rule 5 Draft selection from the Indians, got his first Major League start on Friday and had two hits, including a double. On Saturday, the left fielder had a triple among his three at-bats.

"It's just great having the opportunity to play, whether I'm leading off, whether I'm starting, whether I'm pinch-hitting, just for the coach to have confidence in me to contribute -- it says a lot and I'm thankful for it," Barton said before Sunday's series finale at Busch Stadium. "But at the same time, I have a job to do, and hopefully I continue to do that job so I can stay here."

Barton, playing left field, entered Sunday batting .444 (4-for-9) with a double, a triple and a run scored.

"He's hit a couple shots and he's helped us win, so we'll stay with it," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.

The Cardinals are in the middle of a stretch of facing four left-handed pitchers on consecutive days. Washington threw Odalis Perez on Friday, Matt Chico on Saturday and John Lannan on Sunday. For their home opener on Monday night, the Astros are expected to start Wandy Rodriguez.

Outfielder Skip Schumaker started the Cards' first three games in left field and at the top of the lineup. But the left-handed-hitting Schumaker, who batted .333 in 112 at-bats in 2007, is hitless in 13 at-bats this season.

La Russa said before Sunday's game that Schumaker is going to be the Cardinals' primary leadoff hitter. Schumaker has been a sixth-inning defensive replacement for Barton the last two games as well.

"I just see a bunch of right-handers coming up on our road trip, so I'm not worried about him missing a start here or there," La Russa said. "He's played both the last games, so he's staying sharp."

Nate Latsch is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.