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PIT@STL: McClellan fans seven in his first start

When Kyle McClellan takes the mound at Chase Field against the D-backs, more than the uniforms will tell him that he's in a foreign territory that at times has been hostile.

McClellan, coming off a strong 2011 debut as the Cardinals' fifth starter, enters what has been a bit of a house of horrors for him in the past when he takes on the D-backs' Barry Enright in the opener of a three-game series.

Arizona can be a tough place to pitch for everyone.

"It's a good place to score," says Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. "Hard infield, the ball carries."

For McClellan, his first seven appearances have been hard. He takes an 11.25 ERA at the D-backs' home into this start, but he's in more of a set role as part of the Cardinals rotation now.

"I've definitely seen an effect on my sinker and my curveball," McClellan says of his previous work in Arizona. "But it's still one of those things where I've got to make my pitches. Work a little harder.

"They've got a lot different team, I'm in a different role, there are a lot of variables that are different. But I've definitely had my struggles there in the past. It's a tough place to pitch, but their guy has got to do it, too."

Their guy on Monday will be Enright, who gutted out six innings against the Cubs in his season debut, taking a no-decision while allowing four earned runs on seven hits. The runs came early and Enright settled in after that, but the 25-year-old second-year man expects more from himself.

"I didn't come out very sharp," he said. "They had a pretty good game plan, which most teams I think are going to start doing against me, kind of swing early."

Cardinals: Holliday's return sparks offense
Matt Holliday was back in the lineup Sunday, just nine days after undergoing an appendectomy. He went 1-for-3 with an RBI and walked to start the Cardinals' three-run sixth inning that got them going toward their 6-1 victory over the Giants. Holliday played on Opening Day, going 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs, but the next day he required an appendectomy. That was April 1, and he had not played since. Holliday missed seven games as a result of the procedure.

D-backs: First impressions for Gibson
Following a tough Spring Training schedule, in terms of results at least, the D-backs have started the season at 4-4, taking two of three against the defending National League Central champion Reds over the weekend. They're taking on the toughest early schedule in the Majors, with 15 of their first 18 games against winning teams in 2010. "We've competed and done the things we talked about [during Spring Training]," Gibson said before Sunday's game. Although he's seen some attempts to be "overaggressive," Gibson is also seeing good signs for his underdog squad. "They have a desire to succeed, and that's a good sign," the manager said. "They're not out there for themselves, I can tell you that. Everyone is trying to have good at-bats for the team. I just want timely at-bats. I'll take a 1-for-6 if the one helps win a game."

Worth noting
The Cardinals won the season series last year, 5-4. This is their first meeting of the 2011 season. ... The D-backs and Rockies will make up their snowed-out April 3 game on May 24 as the first game of a day-night doubleheader at Coors Field. ... The Cardinals are in leg two of a three-leg NL West swing, starting in San Francisco and ending with a four-game set in Los Angeles. The D-backs host the Giants after an off-day Thursday.

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