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Kozma kicks off season with strong showing

SAN FRANCISCO -- Since he won the starting job in Spring Training, Pete Kozma has looked the part of everyday player.

Kozma put together a three-hit effort Saturday and added a hit and two RBIs on Sunday to boost his season average to .333 (8-for-24) through six games. Filling in for the injured Rafael Furcal has been no small task, but Cardinals manager Mike Matheny wants to treat Kozma's solid start as business as usual.

"We're trying to make everybody leave him alone and not make a big deal about it," Matheny said. "We like what we've seen and what we saw last year. I told him this, too: 'This is the only guy I know. So just keep doing what you do.'"

Kozma finished off the 2012 regular season batting .333 in 26 games after Furcal went down with an arm injury. He had two game-winning RBIs in the National League Division Series clincher against Washington.

The middle infield looked a bit different Sunday, as Kozma's double-play partner David Descalso was replaced by Matt Carpenter at second base. Carpenter entered Sunday's contest 4-for-4 against Giants starter Matt Cain in his career, while Matheny also touted his defensive versatility.

"It's been a week since he's been there," Matheny said. "It's going to be another challenge, but he's been working in between. I know he's been starting at third, but he's anxious to go back out there and show all the work he's put into it."

Kozma rapped an RBI single in the Cardinals' nine-run fourth inning Sunday, while Carpenter had a pair of singles in the frame, driving in a run with his second at-bat of the inning, before adding an RBI double in the eighth.

Alex Espinoza is a contributor to
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