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08/12/2011 12:08 AM EDT
Pujols powers Cardinals past Brewers
ST LOUIS 5, MILWAUKEE 2
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals
sorely needed this one, so the slugger picked a perfect time for
a breakout game against the surging Milwaukee Brewers.
Pujols kicked off a 4-for-4 night with a solo homer and the
Cardinals beat the Brewers 5-2 on Thursday to avoid a three-game
St. Louis pulled within four games of NL Central-leading
Milwaukee, which has won 13 of 15. The Cardinals are the only
team to beat the Brewers during their hot streak.
Pujols almost doubled his hit total for the season against
Milwaukee. The big first baseman entered with just five hits in
42 at-bats against the Cardinals' main division rival, but he
put that slide behind him with a drive in the first against
Yovani Gallardo (13-8).
Pujols moved into a tie with teammate Lance Berkman for the
National League lead with 28 homers and added three singles to
up his average to .284.
"The last couple of days, no hits," Pujols said. "Today, four
hits. What did I change? Nothing.
"I'm just trying to be consistent like I have. I think anyone
would love to have those numbers I have after 100-plus games."
Chris Carpenter (8-8) gave up 10 hits in eight innings, but shut
down the Brewers after they scored twice in the first. Fernando
Salas finished for his 22nd save in 25 opportunities.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa stopped short of calling it a
must-win game, but was pleased with the effort.
"Do or die is the last couple of weeks when the numbers are
staring you in the face," La Russa said. "There was a lot of
urgency today. We beat a very good pitcher."
Mark Kotsay, subbing for All-Star slugger Ryan Braun, reached
three times and had an RBI double for Milwaukee. Prince Fielder
had a run-scoring single to give him 88 RBIs.
"I think we had a great road trip," Fielder said. "We had a
great series here. I think we played good baseball tonight as
After last week's series in Milwaukee, which featured ejections
and warnings for hit batters, this three-game set was fairly
tame. The only thing close to an outburst came in the top of the
eighth inning when all four umpires gathered briefly near third
base and sent the Milwaukee bench a message.
"(There were) just some comments that were made from a couple of
players," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "They were
telling me to keep one of our players quiet."
Rafael Furcal got St. Louis off to a fast start with a leadoff
drive to right in the first. After Gallardo fanned Jon Jay,
Pujols hit a tying drive over the wall in center.
St. Louis took its first lead of the series in the third with
some help from the Brewers. Second baseman Felipe Lopez booted
Furcal's ground ball leading off the inning, allowing him to
reach first. Furcal was forced at second by Jay, but Pujols and
Berkman followed with singles to plate Jay.
That same combination worked again in the fifth when Jay singled
to right with two out, stole second and scored on Pujols' single
to center. Pujols moved to third on Berkman's single to right
and came home on a wild pitch to make it 5-2.
"Obviously, it's a nice win," Carpenter said. "We needed this
one. I went out and gave up the two early and we got the two
right back and started over again. That was key."
Gallardo gave up five runs, four earned, and seven hits in five
"I just left the ball up," he said. "That first inning, a
curveball up in the zone (to Pujols). He's a good hitter. He's
going to take advantage of those mistakes."
NOTES: Furcal's leadoff homer was the 27th of his career. ...
Milwaukee will start a seven-game homestand Friday when it
begins a three-game series with the Pirates. The Brewers are a
major league-best 41-15 at home. ... Cardinals OF Matt Holliday
was out of the lineup for a second straight game with back
tightness. ... Milwaukee's Frankie De La Cruz, who was called up
earlier in the day to replace Chris Narveson on the roster,
pitched a scoreless seventh inning. ... Cardinals C Yadier
Molina extended his hitting streak to 14 games with an
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