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After rough June, Garcia thriving in July

Filling in for injured Wong, Cards infielder hits 2-run HR
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- As the hitless games piled up for Greg Garcia last month, Cardinals hitting coach John Mabry attempted to alter Garcia's perspective by bringing him proof that he wasn't alone. Mabry showed Garcia a list of opponents' batting averages against some of the late-inning relievers Garcia had recently faced as a pinch-hitter.

The numbers reminded Garcia how rare success in such spots can be.

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ST. LOUIS -- As the hitless games piled up for Greg Garcia last month, Cardinals hitting coach John Mabry attempted to alter Garcia's perspective by bringing him proof that he wasn't alone. Mabry showed Garcia a list of opponents' batting averages against some of the late-inning relievers Garcia had recently faced as a pinch-hitter.

The numbers reminded Garcia how rare success in such spots can be.

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That helped the utility infielder reset, as did a series in Baltimore where, though he didn't register any hits, a couple of hard-hit balls convinced Garcia that he was close. With the benefit of more starting opportunities recently, Garcia, who delivered a two-run homer in the Cardinals' 5-2 loss to the Marlins on Tuesday, has been able to pull himself out of that funk.

He has followed a 1-for-29 stretch that covered much of June with a recent stretch of success. With five RBIs, Garcia has driven in more runs over his past nine games than he did over his first 58.

"I've been getting thrown in there and playing more," Garcia said. "That's obviously helping my timing and everything like that."

Indeed, starts have been more frequent for Garcia with Kolten Wong still on the disabled list. That forgettable stretch in June dropped Garcia's season average as low as .198, but the club is still 16-10 when he starts.

Garcia reached base twice Tuesday and put the Cardinals ahead, 2-0, when he drove a Jose Urena slider just beyond the outstretched arm of right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. With an exit velocity of 94.7 mph and 30-degree launch angle, the ball had a hit probability of 26 percent, per Statcast™. But it dropped into the Cardinals' bullpen for Garcia's second home run this season.

"[Stanton] timed that up real good," Garcia said. "Once I saw the ball land, I took a sigh of relief there."

It was similar to the reaction Garcia had June 25, when he snapped an 0-for-18 skid by lining a two-run single just past Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer.

"Those little moments -- that's why you saw so much emotion out of me -- can carry over, and I think it has," Garcia said. "I think it's flipped the switch where I feel now that things are going to go my way. When you're not going good, it's right to somebody or you're not getting those cheap hits."

Beginning with that hit against Pittsburgh, Garcia has tallied seven hits in 22 at-bats.

"It's very common in this game to be so results-oriented that you forget about the process," manager Mike Matheny said. "He was doing all the little things right. He was putting together good at-bats, making hard outs, and when you're getting very few opportunities, that's about all you can ask. We kept reminding him that he was doing what he could. Now he's getting a little bit more opportunity, and he almost had the game-winner for us."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, and Facebook.

St. Louis Cardinals, Greg Garcia