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La Russa to bat pitcher eighth to boost cold offense

WASHINGTON -- In an attempt to jump start his sagging
offense, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa decided to bat
pitcher Joel Pineiro eighth on Saturday against the
Washington Nationals.

Adam Kennedy, the Cardinals' second baseman, batted ninth.

"I've been thinking about it for a while. Our offense has been
very erratic," La Russa said. "We're just not getting enough guys
on base. [What] we're trying to do is get a legitimate position
player in the lineup."

The Cardinals entered Saturday night's game against the
Nationals on a three-game losing streak. They're 11th in the
National League in runs scored.

"We just lost three games with the pitcher batting ninth. ... I
think it's a good strategy to use. It's not like we're burning up
the league offensively," La Russa said.

The reason to bat a position player ninth is to potentially put
another runner on base for the team's middle of the lineup.

"In the American League, it's a second leadoff hitter," La
Russa said of the ninth batter.

The move paid off in an unexpected way in the third inning, when
Kennedy hit a solo home run, his third of the year.

It's not as if he's losing a ton of production from the eighth
spot, either; the Cardinals were last in baseball with 28 RBIs out
of the eighth slot.

La Russa has done this before; in 1998, he batted his pitcher in
the eighth slot 76 times. He hasn't done it since.

The player La Russa chose to bat ninth wasn't thrilled about it
-- even if he had batted ninth regularly last year with the
Los Angeles Angels.

"It's what [La Russa] wants to do," Kennedy said. "We all
have egos, so definitely, that comes into play."

Kennedy came in to the game hitting .221 with 17 RBIs in 258
at-bats this season.

Pineiro, who was an American League pitcher for his entire eight
year career prior to getting traded to the Cardinals from the Red
Sox on July 31, was 2-for-24 in his career as a hitter.

One of the players who might benefit from La Russa's strategy --
first baseman Albert Pujols, who normally hits third, wasn't in the
starting lineup. Pujols is suffering from a sore right elbow, and
was available for pinch-hitting duties, La Russa said. Pujols has
played in each of the Cardinals' first 106 games -- and started all
but one.

The last starting pitcher to not bat ninth was Florida's
Dontrelle Willis, who batted seventh on Oct. 2, 2005.