HOUSTON -- Even though All-Stars Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday are putting up expected big numbers, St. Louis manager Tony La Russa would like to see both get hot at the plate at the same time.
"They're having solid seasons," said La Russa. "It's just that we've seen them both on fire, but they haven't really been on fire [together]. Albert's been pretty consistent -- he gets hits all the time. But Matt started out the first month, he was sluggish."
Holliday has picked it up as the season has progressed. Holliday hit a three-run homer Sunday and has now homered in four of his last six games. He tied career highs with four hits, four runs and two home runs in Wednesday's 8-7 loss at Colorado. Entering Sunday, Holliday was batting .300 with 15 home runs and 48 RBIs. Pujols was batting .307 with 21 home runs and 64 RBIs. Both homered in Friday's 8-0 win against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
The Cardinals acquired Holliday from the Athletics last July 24. In a little more than two months, Holliday batted .353 with 13 home runs and 55 RBIs for the Cardinals in 2009. La Russa likes the way Holliday approaches every at-bat.
"The more strikes he swings at, more balls get on the barrel," said La Russa. "He's an aggressive hitter, so sometimes he's got to rein himself in a bit. But he goes out there and makes something happen. He's dangerous that way."
Jay has been nice addition for Cards
HOUSTON -- Jon Jay is fitting in nicely in the Cardinals' outfield. On Saturday, the 25-year-old rookie extended his hitting streak to a National League-best 10 games and has a hit in all 10 games he has started this year.
"I don't really think about that stuff," said Jay, who had two of the Cardinals' five hits in Saturday's 4-1 loss at Houston. "I just try to survive here from day-to-day, and hopefully, I can do something so I can have a chance to compete and they throw me out there."
Jay's hitting streak is tied for second longest on the team this year. Albert Pujols had an 11-game streak from April 25-May 6.
The left-handed-hitting Jay entered Sunday's game with a .385 batting average with three home runs and nine RBIS in 65 at-bats. As a first-year player in the Major Leagues, Jay is seeing a lot of pitchers for the first time.
"I'm in the film room a lot and leaning on my teammates," said Jay. "You got guys that are established here that know the pitchers, know their tendencies. I'm picking their [brain] and trying to find out as much as I can -- kind of an advantage for me."
Jay has started eight games in right field this year and Sunday's start was his third in center, a position he has primarily played in the Minors.
"I'm comfortable there," said Jay, who on Sunday started for the second straight day in center as Colby Rasmus sat out again with tightness in his right hamstring. "Every new city we go to, I try to shag hard in [batting practice] so I get comfortable with the field."
La Russa reacts to Bagwell's hiring
HOUSTON -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa will have to again root against Jeff Bagwell, who on Sunday afternoon relieved Sean Berry of his duties as the Astros' hitting coach.
"I'm good friends with Bagwell, now I have to pull against him," La Russa said jokingly.
As an Astros player from 1991-2005, Bagwell set franchise records with 449 home runs and 1,529 RBIs. A four-time All-Star, Bagwell was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1991 and the league's MVP in 1994.
Bagwell has been a special assistant to the general manager since his retirement. Berry, who was the hitting coach the past five seasons, has been offered an opportunity to remain in the Astros' organization.
"I know Sean very soundly. He's a respected guy," said La Russa. "Bagwell is an icon. ... He'll be 100 percent into it."
Rasmus misses second straight game
HOUSTON -- For the second straight game, St. Louis center fielder Colby Rasmus was out of the starting lineup against the Astros.
Rasmus left Friday's 8-0 Cardinals win at Houston after the top of the eighth inning with tightness in his right hamstring. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said before Sunday's game that Rasmus would be available to pinch-hit.
"I could pinch-hit him," said La Russa. "I would try to pinch-hit him with two outs. He's been told, 'Hit the ball in the gap, get to first base. Hit the ball in the hole, just trot to first.'"
Rasmus should start on Thursday when the Cardinals resume play at home against the Dodgers following the All-Star break.
"We're expecting him back Thursday ready to go," said La Russa.
Stavinoha's football background beneficial
HOUSTON -- Nick Stavinoha's background is a little different than most Major League baseball players. He started his college career at the University of Houston on a football scholarship in addition to playing baseball.
The football experience paid off for Stavinoha, who was born and raised in Houston and eventually transferred to LSU where he played baseball only.
"I wouldn't go back and change it," said Stavinoha. "My true love was baseball. I had a little success in football and it was an easy way to get my school paid for. I learned a lot in football about myself and just how much you can tolerate and what you can go through and what the body and mind can do. So I learned a lot and took that with me into baseball when I transferred the next year."
Football is more physically demanding on the body, but baseball can also be a physical challenge.
"It's a different grind," said Stavinoha. "If you get a little tweak in football, you get five or six days to get it right and you get to play that weekend. But in baseball, you play every day, so it's a different grind. [An injury] can get worse real quick. It's a different way of taking care of yourself."
Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.