ST. LOUIS -- Extra innings means extra chances for Albert Pujols. For the second time in three long games he came through with a game-winning home run.
Pujols' league-leading 30th homer with one out in the 14th inning gave the St. Louis Cardinals a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, their third straight win in extra innings. He nearly ended the game with a homer in the ninth with a ball that died at the warning track in center, and grounded out in the 12th.
"You give Albert enough chances in any situations he's going to come through," reliever Adam Wainwright said. "He's proven that time and time again this year.
"It's almost surprising that he didn't do it before he did, he's that good of a player."
Jim Edmonds hit a game-tying two-run home run in the seventh and made a running catch at the warning track to rob Andre Ethier in the 13th for the NL Central leaders, who have won four in a row. They've played a total of 36 innings in the last three games, the first two victories coming against Houston before the All-Star break.
Pujols also homered off the Astros' Roy Oswalt to end a 10-inning game on Saturday. He has seven career game-winning homers and two this season after hitting a 3-1 pitch from Odalis Perez (4-4) well over the left-field wall into the visitor's bullpen.
"Anytime you hit a walk-off home run that's the best home run in the game," Pujols said. "A long night like this, your first game coming back from the break, it's pretty tough.
"We battled through, we were focused. I'm glad we're done playing."
Perez said he was trying to walk Pujols on a 3-2 count. Pujols is 10-for-15 against Perez with five homers.
"He went out and got it," Perez said. "It was a changeup away."
Manager Grady Little said he preferred to challenge Pujols, no matter who was pitching to him.
"Sooner or later, you've got to do something," Little said. "There's not enough bases out there to intentionally walk everybody you want to."
Braden Looper (5-1) allowed one hit in the top of the 14th to help the Cardinals win their first game after the break for the third straight season.
Nomar Garciaparra of the Dodgers hit a two-run homer in the third to extend his hitting streak to 22 games. It's the second-longest streak in the majors this year, trailing only Edgar Renteria's 23-game run in April.
But Garciaparra struck out with runners on first and third against Wainwright for the last out in the 10th, and lined out against Josh Hancock with a runner on second to end the 12th.
Rafael Furcal had four hits, two doubles, and a stolen base for the Dodgers and is batting .429 (15-for-35) during an eight-game hitting streak. He's a career .372 hitter against St. Louis.
Edmonds' two-run homer in the seventh off Giovanni Carrara tied it at 2.
Cardinals starter Jason Marquis worked eight innings in his third straight effective outing, allowing two runs and six hits. Marquis has a 5.34 overall ERA but he's 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA the last three times out, although he leads the NL with 21 homers allowed.
Dodgers rookie starter Chad Billingsley worked around five walks in five scoreless innings, three times escaping bases loaded situations. The 21-year-old Billingsley, a first-round draft pick of the Dodgers in 2003, has 24 walks in 27 innings in the last five starts of his six-start career.
The Dodgers' Jeff Kent, playing for the first time in seven games due to a strained left side muscle, was 0-for-3. He was removed in a double switch in the sixth inning.
"It's a situation where we didn't want to push him a lot in his first game back," Little said "He did fine and he'll be back in there tomorrow."
- Edmonds has 221 homers with the Cardinals, breaking a tie with Mark McGwire for fourth on the team's career list.
- Garciaparra is 32-for-89 (.360) during his hitting streak, the Dodgers' longest since Paul Lo Duca hit in 25 straight in 2003.
- The last time the Cardinals won three straight extra-inning games was June 1-3, 1988.