LOS ANGELES -- Last Saturday, Rafael Furcal was in a rut, hitting only .214 after making outs in his first two at-bats against the Cincinnati Reds.
He got hits his next two times up, and has been on a startling tear ever since.
Furcal has four hits in three straight games -- the first major leaguer to accomplish that feat since Marcus Giles did it for the Atlanta Braves in 2003. Furcal played for the Braves at that time.
"It was in Montreal. I remember that," the Dodgers' switch-hitting shortstop said. "It was unbelievable."
That pretty much tells the story regarding Furcal, who has 14 hits in his last 16 at-bats to raise his batting average to .297.
"I say, `Thank God,' because it's unbelievable," Furcal said with a smile.
The other players with three straight four-hit games in the last 55 years are Brett Butler, Mike Benjamin and Tim Salmon, and the major league record for consecutive four-hit games is four, set by Brooklyn's Milt Stock in 1925.
"I can't do that on Play Station. He's doing it in real life," teammate Luis Gonzalez said. "Guys in the dugout are shaking their heads. If he gets two hits tomorrow night, we're all going to be disappointed."
Furcal had hits off Adam Wainwright (3-3) in each of the first three innings, and another off Russ Springer in the seventh. His bases-loaded triple in the third snapped a 4-4 tie and was the big blow in a six-run rally that put the Dodgers ahead for good.
Furcal flied to left against Kelvin Jimenez in the fifth in his only other at-bat.
"He's hotter than a firecracker," Wainwright said. "The only good curveball I threw all day, he hit in the gap."
Cardinals star Albert Pujols gave a double thumbs-up when asked about Furcal.
"That's awesome," Pujols said. "That's how it is when you get so many hits like that. You have to be in a zone."
The Cardinals beat the Dodgers in their final two games of the 2005 season, in all seven meetings last year and made it 10 straight Monday night in their first game of this season. The Dodgers' nine-game winning streak against Cincinnati is now the longest active winning streak by one team over another in the majors.
Derek Lowe (4-4) earned the victory despite a shaky performance, allowing eight hits and four runs in 5 1/3 innings. Takashi Saito, the fifth Dodgers' pitcher, worked the ninth for his 12th save. He has converted 22 straight save opportunities dating to last year.
"This was an offensive win, definitely," Lowe said. "They picked me up today. The ultimate goal is to win, it doesn't matter how."
Wainwright walked three and hit a batter in the first, helping the Dodgers take a 3-0 lead. Russell Martin was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in the first run, and Andre Ethier followed with a two-run single.
The Cardinals battered Lowe for four runs and four hits in the third. Pujols, mired in a 4-for-35 slump, singled to drive in the first run, Scott Rolen added an RBI double and Ryan Ludwick hit a two-run single.
The lead didn't last long. Martin's RBI single in the bottom of the inning tied the game, and Furcal's two-out, bases-loaded triple put the Dodgers ahead 7-4 and chased Wainwright. Juan Pierre greeted Jimenez with an RBI double, and Nomar Garciaparra followed with an RBI single.
Wainwright allowed seven hits and eight runs in 2 2/3 innings, walking four, hitting a batter and striking out none. He called it an all-around horrible effort.
"He's learning," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said regarding Wainwright. "He's making some mistakes. It's kind of painful at times. Adam had a tough night."
The Cardinals scored three runs off Hong-Chih Kuo in the seventh on a run-scoring double by Pujols and RBI singles by Ludwick and Yadier Molina, making it 9-7. Jonathan Broxton relieved with runners at first and third and one out, and worked out of trouble by striking out pinch hitter Scott Spiezio and Aaron Miles. Broxton also retired the side in order in the eighth.
- The Cardinals claimed RHP Todd Wellemeyer off waivers from Kansas City, and plan to add him to their roster this weekend. Wellemeyer was 0-1 in 12 games for the Royals this season, allowing 25 hits and 18 earned runs in 15 2/3 innings.
- The Dodgers recalled Kuo from Triple-A Las Vegas before the game, and designated INF Wilson Valdez for assignment.
- Molina singled in the sixth to extend his hitting streak to a career-high nine games.
- Dodgers 2B Jeff Kent hit his 511th career double in the third to move into a tie for 37th place with Mark Grace on baseball's all-time list.