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Kozma gets crafty to snap out of slump

CHICAGO -- Pete Kozma came into the Cardinals' series finale against the Cubs ice cold at the plate and searching for any kind of hit he could get.

After lining out in the second inning to extend his hitless skid to 28 straight at-bats, Kozma finally broke through in the third. His two-out bunt single toward third base was his first hit since June 25 in Houston and put the Cardinals ahead, 2-1, after Yadier Molina scored from third.

If anybody on the Cardinals' roster needed something like that to happen at the plate, it was Kozma, who has continued to play superb defense through an offensive slump that sunk his batting average from .244 to .228 in just seven games this month.

"At bat, you've got a lot to think about, and then on defense, you've got the same thing," Kozma said before the game. "You've got the hitter to think about, the pitches, even the playing surface. It's just a mindset. You've got to separate the two. If something bad happens on defense, you can't take it to the plate with you. If something bad happens at the plate, you can't take it on defense with you."

Understandably, Kozma said he's looking forward to getting a few days off during the All-Star break and then coming back rejuvenated for the rest of the regular season. Getting the big bunt single in this game also can't hurt his confidence level.

"It's [going to be] the second half," Kozma said. "The first half is over, so we can start with a clean slate and go from there."

Brian Hedger is a contributor to
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