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Atlanta at St. Louis

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Pujols makes history as Cards' Mulder tops Braves' Smoltz

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ST. LOUIS -- The Atlanta Braves appreciated Albert Pujols' milestone home run a lot more than he did.

Pujols became the first player in major-league history to hit 30 home runs in each of his first five seasons, helping Mark Mulder and the St. Louis Cardinals end John Smoltz' eight-game winning streak with an 11-3 victory on Friday night.

"You don't know how good he is until you sit in the dugout," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He looks deadly."

Smoltz (12-6) lost for the first time since June 6, yielding five runs and six hits in six innings with six strikeouts and two intentional walks. He had a 2.05 ERA during the streak, which had been tied with Cardinals 16-game winner Chris Carpenter for the longest in the NL. He went at least seven innings in nine of 10 starts.

Pujols hit a two-run shot in the first for his 190th homer since breaking in with the Cardinals in 2001. His total of 160 homers over the first four seasons is second behind Ralph Kiner's 168 from 1946-49. His five-year total is tied for second with Eddie Mathews, 25 behind Kiner.

The Cardinals retrieved the ball from a fan in the left-field stands in exchange for a ball autographed by Pujols. Not that Pujols thought it was a big deal.

"If I can stay healthy, I know I'm capable of doing that," Pujols said. "So, I don't think about it. The thing I want is a championship, that's what I want to appreciate at the end of my career."

Manager Tony La Russa appreciates it now.

"He is a classic high-average hitter because he takes a relentless approach every at-bat," La Russa said. "Every at-bat he's the same way. He battles the great pitchers, he battles the real good ones, the good ones, the ones that are trying to make it."

Pujols is 5-for-12 against Smoltz with two homers. Smoltz said the fastball that Pujols punished "was a terrible pitch, just a flat-out terrible pitch."

"Sometimes 90 percent of the guys you might get away with it once in a while," Smoltz said. "You're not getting away with it with him. He's dominant, he really is."

Pujols was intentionally walked and scored on Abraham Nunez' two-run single in the sixth, giving him a major league-leading 93 runs.

Jim Edmonds and So Taguchi homered for the Cardinals, who won the opener of a three-game series between NL division leaders in front of a sellout crowd of 47,838. Taguchi added a two-run single and Einar Diaz and Scott Seabol also drove in a run in a five-run eighth for St. Louis, which has won five of seven and handed the Braves only their fourth loss in 13 games.

Pitching on his birthday for the first time in his career, Mulder (13-5) scattered seven hits in seven innings with three strikeouts and two walks to win his fifth consecutive decision over eight starts. The 28-year-old has a 2.05 ERA during the streak.

"It was a little weird," Mulder said. "My parents and everybody is here, so I'm glad I pitched well or I'd be in a bad mood right now."

The Braves had two hits in the first inning and three in the fourth, but settled for only one run -- Wilson Betemit's RBI single in the fourth. Mulder is 75-9 in 95 career starts when his team scores at least four runs.

Edmonds, who is 12-for-31 during a nine-game hitting streak with four homers, hit his 21st with one out in the fourth for a 3-1 lead. Taguchi hit his seventh, and second in three days, leading off the seventh against Jim Brower.

Notes

  • Whitey Herzog, who led the Cardinals to their last World Series championship in 1982, participated in the Busch Stadium countdown when he removed his jersey number, 24, from the right-field wall. Herzog, who produced three pennants in the 1980s, received a standing ovation during a tour around the warning track on a golf cart.
  • Cardinals starters lead the majors with 60 wins.
  • Smoltz is 9-11 against the Cardinals, one of only five teams he has a losing record against. He's 10-14 against the Giants, 0-2 against the Blue Jays, and 0-1 against the Angels and Tigers.
  • The Cardinals are 10-10 against the NL East after going 19-11 last year.
  • The Cardinals have had 26 sellouts and 19 consecutive crowds over 40,000.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Birthday boy Mark Mulder yields just one run over seven innings to win his fifth consecutive decision.  (AP)
Birthday boy Mark Mulder yields just one run over seven innings to win his fifth consecutive decision. (AP)

Players of the Game
St. Louis

M. Mulder
IP 7.0
H 7
ER 1
BB 2
K 3
St. Louis

S. Taguchi
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 3
 
Atlanta Braves
Rafael Furcal, SS4110103 .273
Marcus Giles, 2B5022002 .306
Jeff Francoeur, RF5120012 .406
Andruw Jones, CF3010102 .272
    Ryan Langerhans, PR-CF0000000 .244
Julio Franco, 1B4010012 .283
Wilson Betemit, 3B4021012 .303
Johnny Estrada, C3000002 .255
   a- Brian McCann, PH1000000 .313
Kelly Johnson, LF2000200 .227
John Smoltz, P1000010 .157
   b- Adam LaRoche, PH1000002 .262
    Jim Brower, P0000000 .000
    Macay McBride, P0000000 .000
    Dan Kolb, P0000000 .000
   c- Pete Orr, PH1110000 .305
Totals3431034417 
a-flied out for Estrada in the 9th
b-flied out for Smoltz in the 7th
c-singled for Kolb in the 9th
Batting
2B - Marcus Giles (33, Flores), Jeff Francoeur (7, Mulder)
SH - John Smoltz (9)
RBI - Marcus Giles 2 (41), Wilson Betemit (15)
2-OUT RBI - Marcus Giles 2 (19)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Kelly Johnson 1
E - Rafael Furcal (12, Wild throw)
Atlanta Braves
John Smoltz (L,12-6) 6655262 2.83
Jim Brower 1111001 5.36
Macay McBride 0.2454210 7.20
Dan Kolb 0.1000000 4.98
IBB - Pujols by John Smoltz, by Edmonds
HBP - Eckstein (by Jim Brower)
WP - John Smoltz (2)
Pitches-Strikes - John Smoltz 88-56, Jim Brower 14-9, Macay McBride 36-23, Dan Kolb 10-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Smoltz 5-5, Jim Brower 1-2, Dan Kolb 1-1
Batters Faced - John Smoltz 24, Jim Brower 5, Macay McBride 8, Dan Kolb 2
St. Louis Cardinals
David Eckstein, SS4120010 .269
John Rodriguez, LF5110002 .339
Albert Pujols, 1B3312202 .341
Jim Edmonds, CF3111111 .273
    Randy Flores, P0000000 .000
    Cal Eldred, P0000000 .000
Mark Grudzielanek, 2B4120013 .295
    Hector Luna, RF0000000 .250
Abraham Nunez, 3B3112110 .313
So Taguchi, RF-CF4223020 .277
Einar Diaz, C4111000 .206
Mark Mulder, P2000010 .114
   a- John Mabry, PH1000000 .270
    Julian Tavarez, P0000000 .000
   b- Scott Seabol, PH-2B0001000 .238
Totals33111110478 
a-grounded out for Mulder in the 7th
b-hit a sacrifice fly for Tavarez in the 8th
Batting
2B - David Eckstein (15, Smoltz)
HR - Albert Pujols (30, Smoltz), Jim Edmonds (21, Smoltz), So Taguchi (7, Brower)
SF - Scott Seabol (1)
RBI - Albert Pujols 2 (88), Jim Edmonds (66), Abraham Nunez 2 (31), So Taguchi 3 (32), Einar Diaz (16), Scott Seabol (9)
2-OUT RBI - Abraham Nunez 2 (9)
CS - Mark Grudzielanek (4, 2nd base by Smoltz/Estrada)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Eckstein-Grudzielanek-Pujols, Mulder-Grudzielanek-Pujols
PB - Einar Diaz (3)
St. Louis Cardinals
Mark Mulder (W,13-5) 7711230 3.79
Julian Tavarez 1100110 2.72
Randy Flores 0.2222100 3.86
Cal Eldred 0.1000000 0.98
Pitches-Strikes - Mark Mulder 100-65, Julian Tavarez 22-12, Randy Flores 19-11, Cal Eldred 3-2
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mark Mulder 10-6, Julian Tavarez 2-0, Randy Flores 1-1
Batters Faced - Mark Mulder 28, Julian Tavarez 5, Randy Flores 5, Cal Eldred 1
Game Information
Attendance - 47838
Game Time - 2:52
Temperature - 80
Umpires - Home - Tim Tschida, First Base - Ron Kulpa, Second Base - Dan Iassogna, Third Base - Dale Scott