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Pujols' blast, Suppan's strong outing lead Cards to victory

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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WASHINGTON -- A first-inning mistake to Albert Pujols usually isn't enough to decide a game. On Tuesday night, it was all the offense Jeff Suppan needed.

Pujols hit his 44th home run, and Suppan took a shutout into the eighth inning to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 2-0 victory over the Washington Nationals.

Pujols' solo shot was his fifth homer in three days -- and second in as many at-bats. He pulled a flat 76 mph curveball from Pedro Astacio over the left-field fence on a full count.

"I'm seeing the ball good and putting on my best swing, and that's how it is," Pujols said. "When they come, they come in bunches. When they don't come, they take a while, so I just try to put on my best swing and I'm just glad they are going out of the park."

Suppan (11-7) allowed five hits, struck out five and walked two over 7 2/3 innings, his second scoreless outing in three starts. He blanked the Chicago Cubs for 7 2/3 innings on Aug. 25.

"These guys are pretty tough hitters and they were patient," Suppan said. "But when they were patient I was able to locate pitches, and when they were aggressive I was able to throw chase pitches. For me, it's pitch by pitch, so that's how I try to keep my focus. I think location was obviously a big key."

Suppan left after Ryan Zimmerman walked and Nick Johnson singled with two outs in the eighth. Adam Wainwright entered and hit Austin Kearns to load the bases before striking out Brian Schneider, ending another fruitless day for the Nationals when batting with runners in scoring position. Washington was 0-for-7 with men on second and third, dropping the team's season average to .245.

Jason Isringhausen pitched the ninth for his 33rd save, but not before issuing two walks to bring the tying run to the plate. He struck out Felipe Lopez to end the game.

Astacio (3-5) took the loss despite pitching well after three poor outings. He allowed two runs and six hits over 6 1/3 innings and didn't walk a batter, his best performance since throwing a shutout against Atlanta on Aug. 15.

"He did all he could do," Washington manager Frank Robinson said. "We just didn't score any runs for him."

The Cardinals got their second run in the seventh when Nationals second baseman Bernie Castro dropped a throw from shortstop Lopez on a potential double-play ball with the bases loaded. Scott Rolen scored, but the rally stopped when Suppan, the next hitter, lined into a double play while attempting a squeeze bunt.

The Nationals' five-game winning streak came to an end, but their incredible streak of comeback victories had the Cardinals on edge late in the game. Washington won the first four in its spurt after trailing by two runs in the seventh inning or later in each game. The Nationals had the bases loaded in the eighth and two men on in the ninth on Tuesday.

"You look at the scoreboard and you see it's the eighth inning," Schneider said. "It's funny how things have been working out like that for us, but not tonight."

Notes

  • The Nationals played their first night game since Saturday. They played a day-night doubleheader Saturday and had matinees Sunday and Labor Day. They will also play a getaway afternoon game Wednesday.
  • Zimmerman's hitting streak ended at 10 games.
  • St. Louis CF Juan Encarnacion sat out for the second straight game with a sore hip.
 
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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The Cards' Albert Pujols celebrates his solo first-inning home run, his 44th homer on the season.   (AP)
The Cards' Albert Pujols celebrates his solo first-inning home run, his 44th homer on the season. (AP)

Players of the Game
St. Louis

J. Suppan
IP 7.2
H 5
ER 0
BB 2
K 5
St. Louis

A. Pujols
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 1
 
St. Louis Cardinals
So Taguchi, CF4010001 .271
Chris Duncan, LF4000022 .314
Albert Pujols, 1B3111100 .321
Scott Rolen, 3B4110002 .309
Preston Wilson, RF4010010 .264
Ronnie Belliard, 2B4000002 .281
Aaron Miles, SS4010000 .271
Yadier Molina, C3021000 .219
Jeff Suppan, P3000004 .204
    Adam Wainwright, P0000000 .500
    Jason Isringhausen, P0000000 .000
Totals332721311 
Batting
2B - Yadier Molina (26, Astacio)
HR - Albert Pujols (44, Astacio)
RBI - Albert Pujols (116), Yadier Molina (43)
2-OUT RBI - Albert Pujols (37)
SB - So Taguchi (9, 2nd base off Rauch/Schneider)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
E - Chris Duncan (4, )
St. Louis Cardinals
Jeff Suppan (W,11-7) 7.2500250 4.39
Adam Wainwright (H,16) 0.1000010 3.07
Jason Isringhausen (S,33) 1000220 3.26
HBP - Kearns (by Adam Wainwright)
Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Suppan 121-74, Adam Wainwright 7-3, Jason Isringhausen 28-14
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Suppan 11-8
Batters Faced - Jeff Suppan 31, Adam Wainwright 2, Jason Isringhausen 5
Washington Nationals
Alfonso Soriano, LF4010111 .290
Felipe Lopez, SS5000024 .273
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B3000101 .285
Nick Johnson, 1B4010001 .290
Austin Kearns, RF3010010 .264
    George Lombard, PR-RF0000000 .000
Brian Schneider, C4010013 .240
Bernie Castro, 2B4000012 .236
Nook Logan, CF3010110 .357
Pedro Astacio, P1000010 .200
    Ryan Wagner, P0000000 .333
   a- Robert Fick, PH1000001 .217
    Jon Rauch, P0000000 .000
    Saul Rivera, P0000000 .000
   b- Ryan Church, PH0000100 .255
Totals320504813 
a-grounded out for Wagner in the 7th
b-walked for Rivera in the 9th
Batting
SH - Pedro Astacio (5)
Team LOB - 11
Fielding
DP - N. Johnson-Zimmerman, F. Lopez-Castro
E - Bernie Castro (1, )
Washington Nationals
Pedro Astacio (L,3-5) 6.1622021 5.83
Ryan Wagner 0.2000000 3.86
Jon Rauch 1100110 3.14
Saul Rivera 1000000 4.34
IBB - Pujols by Jon Rauch
Pitches-Strikes - Pedro Astacio 87-56, Ryan Wagner 2-1, Jon Rauch 18-9, Saul Rivera 7-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Pedro Astacio 9-9, Saul Rivera 2-1
Batters Faced - Pedro Astacio 26, Ryan Wagner 1, Jon Rauch 4, Saul Rivera 3
Game Information
Attendance - 25937
Game Time - 2:40
Temperature - 68
Umpires - Home - Gerry Davis, First Base - Brian Gorman, Second Base - Bill Miller, Third Base - Eric Cooper