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Cards v Marlins
May 2, 2011 -- Cardinals' Lance Berkman (center) is congratulated by Matt Holliday (left) and Colby Rasmus (right) after driving in both players with a three-run home run in the third inning during a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Florida Marlins at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo. Chris Lee clee@post-dispatch.com

Cardinals right fielder Lance Berkman on Monday earned his second National League Player of the Week award this season. Both his awards have come after he had big weeks on the road, including 11 for 24 with two homers and eight runs batted in on a six-game trip to Houston and Atlanta last week.

Earlier, while the Cardinals were in Arizona and Los Angeles for a week, Berkman was 11 for 32 with six homers and 12 runs batted in. For the season then, Berkman is a .375 hitter away from home.

"That's all right," said general manager John Mozeliak. "We struggled on the road last year, so we'll take it."

Last year, the Cardinals were only 34-47 on the road, compared to 10-6 this season.

But before Monday night's game here with the Florida Marlins, Berkman had an even better average at home, where he was batting .432. The difference was in the power production.

On the road, covering the Cardinals' 16 away games, he has eight homers and 20 RBIs. At home, covering their first 12 home games, he had no home runs and three RBIs. But he had six doubles and 10 singles in 37 at-bats at Busch Stadium.

Then, on Monday night, Berkman clouted his first Busch Stadium homer, a three-run drive, and also had a run-scoring single in his first two at-bats.

"When we signed him," said Mozeliak, "we thought he had some upside offensively. More importantly, we thought he was going to be a great fit on the club.

"He was always someone that wanted to play here and I think that made it that much more special. But to get the performance and production we've gotten out of him has been outstanding. Now, he's not going to continue hit .500 as he has the last two weeks."

Berkman said, "All in all, it's about as good a start as I could have hoped for."

And manager Tony La Russa added, "His bat speed (is) outstanding. That's what's always impressed us. He's just like Albert (Pujols) and Matt (Holliday). They just don't throw any at-bats away."

BACK ON TOP

The Cardinals wound up April in first place in the National League Central, the first time they had led after any month since July of last year, when they had a half-game lead they would soon lose.

Mozeliak, asked to analyze what he had seen so far, said, "When you're healthy, you have a much better chance of succeeding. Hopefully, we can get some guys back and withstand the ones we're losing.

"But to be where we are after the first month ... I think that we're in a good spot. Certainly some of the things that have happened — such as the bullpen and defensive collapses — hopefully, those are not going be the DNA of our club for the entire summer."