Mike Maroth came to St. Louis with more than his capable left arm when the Cardinals acquired him in a trade with the Detroit Tigers.

Maroth also brought a desire to continue participating in food distribution for the homeless and fundraising for Multiple Sclerosis research.

"We want to be servants," Maroth told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. "I've been given a platform in baseball that allows me to do things like this. I want to take full advantage of it. It's part of our faith."

And with his wife, Brooke, Maroth hopes to transfer his charitable works to St. Louis as soon as possible.

"We'll get involved in St. Louis as much as we can. It takes a little time to get to know the area," he said. "But no matter where we go, in season or out of season, we want to do as much as we can."

Three years ago, Mike's father Bill was diagnosed with MS, and in that short time, the disease has started to take its toll.

"I've seen the effects of MS and what he has to go through daily," said Maroth. "It's not easy for him, and it's not something that can be cured or even reversed. This is what he has to deal with. When you find out, you pretty much know you can't get better."

His involvement with the MS Society is something Maroth sees as a choice, not something he has to do.

"The things we do are on our own," he said. "We usually look for areas we have a passion for. I think you have to possess a passion for what you do, no matter what.

"We're not going to pick something because somebody wants you to do it. These are things close to our heart. And in those areas, we do as much as we can."

Thanks to his involvement, Maroth was nominated in 2006 for Major League Baseball's Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to a player for civic works. Brooke, meanwhile, served as the 2006 Michigan Ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

"She does more behind the scenes than I do. She doesn't get enough credit," said Maroth. "It's a team effort between her and I. It's not just me."

Carlyle keeps battling: Prior to this season, Buddy Carlyle had spent parts of three seasons in the Majors and had allowed 48 runs in 54 2/3 innings. He had just one win in 21 games pitched.

But on Sunday, Carlyle won his third consecutive start by allowing just one run in eight innings as the Braves downed the Pirates, 5-1.

"If you're a starter for the Braves, you're expected to go out and do the job," Carlyle told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Carlyle allowed a first-inning home run to Freddy Sanchez, then did not allow another run all game.

"What I love about Buddy," said Braves right fielder Jeff Francoeur, "is he gave up the home run on the second at-bat, then came back with nothing but fastballs to Rochey [Adam LaRoche, who followed Sanchez].

"He's not scared of anything. It's fun to play behind a guy like that. Plus, he works quick."

The Braves are the fifth organization that Carlyle has played for in his career and he also spent two seasons in Japan. So he's not letting his current success get to his head.

"I'm trying to treat every inning, every at-bat, like it's a battle for survival, like I've always done," Carlyle said. "Treat every inning like it's your last one."

In Amezaga, the "a" stands for "assist": Alfredo Amezaga has turned into one of the best throwing center fielders in all of baseball. Sunday, he threw out Rafael Belliard at the plate to record his eighth assist of the season and help preserve a 5-3 win for the Marlins.

"Helping the pitcher," Amezaga told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "That's the first thing I think about."

The assist moved him one behind Major League leader Aaron Rowand for center fielders. Rowand has logged 286 2/3 more innings in center than Amezaga has this season.

"Seriously?" Amezaga said. "I'm surprised. I didn't know that. You feel good about that. ... I've worked with [Bo] Porter and he's shown me how to be a little more relaxed. That's in batting practice. During the game, you just attack the ball and do what you can."

Figgins moves into Angels' record book: With three stolen bases in Sunday's game against the Rangers, Chone Figgins recorded his 187th career stolen base, breaking Gary Pettis' franchise record of 186 thefts. Ironically, Pettis was on hand to witness the event, as he is currently the first base coach for the Rangers.

"It was just one of those special moments, and having Gary here made it more gratifying," Figgins told the Los Angeles Times. "Growing up, I watched guys like him, Vince Coleman, Ozzie Smith, Rickey Henderson and Kenny Lofton steal bases. To break one of their records is really special."

Pettis played with the Angels from 1982-1987. He twice topped the 50-steal mark and his 56 steals in 1985 was the second-highest mark in club history behind Mickey Rivers' 70 steals in 1975 until Figgins swiped 62 bags in 2005.

When asked if he was surprised that his franchise record for steals lasted so long, Pettis told the Los Angeles Times, "In a way, yes, but then, no. The game has changed. Guys hit for more power now, and some guys don't value the stolen base as much as it should be valued. It's a weapon, not just to get numbers, but to create offense."

Brewers carefully manage Gallardo's innings: Yovani Gallardo has a future in the starting rotation for the Milwaukee Brewers. But for the present, Gallardo will continue to come out of the bullpen, despite the fact he was 1-0 with a 2.79 ERA in three starts earlier this season.

"I'm not going to sit around and wait too long, but I'm trying to protect Gallardo and not get his innings up," Brewers manager Ned Yost told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "That's the whole idea. If I can get through this month and get into August and then get him nine or 10 starts, we'll be in pretty good shape if we need him at that point."

The Brewers want to make sure they don't overuse Gallardo, who is only 21. The club doesn't want to push him too far beyond the 155 innings he pitched last year. This season, Gallardo has thrown 77 2/3 innings at Triple-A Nashville and 28 2/3 innings for the Brewers. Yost figures Gallardo should throw about 70 more innings this year, and he would prefer to spread them out in the bullpen.

"I don't want to have to get him 15 starts," Yost said.

Garko shines with the glove, too: After a winter of work in the Dominican Republic, Cleveland Indians first baseman has greatly improved his defense. Now, he laughs at those who thought his fielding would be an issue.

"What surprised me," Garko told MLB.com, "is that people thought I wasn't going to get better."

Manager Eric Wedge was not among the doubters.

"He's obviously a hitter," said Wedge. "But he takes a lot of pride in what he does at first base."

Against the Royals over the weekend, Garko made several impressive plays, and Wedge referred to his defense as "fantastic."

"Those are plays I might not have made at even the beginning of this year," said Garko. "But my footwork's getting better and I really feel like I'm reacting to the ball faster. Because of all that work, I feel like I'm able to make those diving plays now."

Wedge isn't surprised.

"He's worked so hard to play a good first base," said Wedge. "And that's what we've seen him do. ... He's been great for us all year."

Gregarious Casey is voted baseball's friendliest: In a Sports Illustrated poll taken in May, Detroit Tigers first baseman Sean Casey received nearly half of the 460 votes taken from Major League players for the "friendliest guy in baseball."

Jim Thome and Mike Sweeney were second with about 30 votes. There must be a reason he was known in Cincinnati as "The Mayor."

When the Detroit Free Press caught up with some players from around the league, the sentiment was clear.

"I remember last year in Pittsburgh," recalled Tigers centerfielder Curtis Granderson when Casey was still playing for the Pirates. "I ended up at first. And he said, 'Man, you're a little guy. I didn't know you had as much power as you did.' Now, I had just gotten a single, so his comment didn't make sense. And then he told me he'd been watching highlights on TV."

Halfway through his first season in the Majors, Granderson was shocked.

"I couldn't believe he even knew who I was," he said.

Even the opposition has nice things to say about Casey.

"He's amazing," said Minnesota Twins center fielder Torii Hunter. "I can't say what we talk about. But he's the best."

The Tigers coaches have plenty of good things to say, too.

"He has a unique ability to strike a conversation with anybody at any time," said Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon. "He also knows how difficult this game is. He had to work hard to become the player he is. He doesn't take it for granted."

For Casey, he just wants his legacy to include more than his bat.

"I want to be remembered for more than hitting," he said.

Ordonez, Ichiro in tight batting race: Let the race for the American League batting title officially begin.

After Sunday's action, the Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki was hitting a cool .350, just behind Magglio Ordonez of the Tigers, who ended the weekend with an average of .358. While Ordonez has the lead right now, it seems like the speed of Ichiro has made him the favorite -- even in the Detroit clubhouse.

"I'd take Ichiro because he's got 'legs,'" Tigers manager Jim Leyland told MLB.com. "Magglio don't get many infield hits. You have a guy like Ichiro who hits a ball in the hole at shortstop and it's a base hit."

Seattle manager John McLaren agrees.

"With Ichiro's feet, I'd have to go with him," said McLaren. "But Magglio's a very capable guy. I managed him in Venezuela and I'd be in the ballpark at noon and this kid was in the stands running. This is before he made it [to the Majors].

"He's a hard worker. Like Ichiro, he does a lot of things behind the scenes. I have a special feeling for Maggs on how he paid the price to get here."

Ordonez even gives Ichiro an advantage.

"I think he's got more of a chance because he has more [infield] base hits and he's fast," he said. "He hits a ground ball and he can beat it out. I'm not that kind of player. I hit for more power."

Sean Casey likes Ichiro's ability to reach base many different ways.

"Mags is such a complete hitter, but so is Ichiro," said Casey. "Ichiro was at our place earlier in the year and he was hitting like .250. Next thing you know he's at .360.

"He's one of those guys who can put four hits on you a couple nights in a row. He puts streaks together. Mags is one of the best hitters in baseball. I think in the end though Ichiro finds a way to win it."

Added Casey: "He knows how to do it and knows what to do down the stretch," he said. "You try to pitch around him and he bloops one to the left or knocks one to the right. He's not looking necessarily to hit a ball down the middle, he's looking to hit anything thrown up there. That's why he's so tough."

For Ordonez, a trip to the postseason is more important.

"It's something that if it happens, great, but I have to help my team get to the playoffs," he said. "They don't pay me to win the batting title. They pay to go the playoffs and win."

-- Red Line Editorial