Pat Burrell appears to have put his awful 2003 season completely behind him.
After a breakout 2002 season in which he batted .282 with 37 home runs and 116 RBIs, Burrell slumped to a .209 average with 21 homers and 64 RBIs last year.
He spent the offseason working on his swing, and the results have been evident. Burrell, who is hitting .339 with two homers and 14 RBIs, was 4-for-4 with three RBIs Tuesday to lead the Phillies to a 7-3 win in the series opener.
“I’ve never had a good start, not that I was anticipating a bad one,” Burrell said. “But to come out and swing the bat well, it’s a great plus for me.”
Philadelphia slugger Jim Thome walked in each of his first two plate appearances, and Burrell followed with an RBI double on both occasions.
“It looked like early they didn’t want any part of Jimmy,” Phillies manager Larry Bowa said. “When Burrell swings the way we know he’s capable of swinging, they’re going to have to pitch a little bit to him.”
Bobby Abreu was 2-for-3, as the Phillies’ 3-4-5 hitters—Abreu, Thome and Burrell—finished 8-for-10 with five walks and six runs.
The Cardinals, who returned to Busch Stadium after going 4-2 on a six-game road trip, continued their struggles at home.
St. Louis has lost the opener of all three of its homestands this season and has been outscored 67-33 in its eight home losses.
“It’s pretty much the same game,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “We haven’t done things as consistently well here. It’s a long season; we’ll be all right at home.”