St. Louis at Washington

Scoreboard
St. Louis (17-7) «1002021006100
Washington (5-17)000000200280

Pujols crushes one of Cards' four dingers, turns away Nationals

CBSSports.com wire reports
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WASHINGTON -- Ryan Ludwick can't find an obvious flaw in the St. Louis Cardinals lineup -- or in their pitching staff.

The potent combination has the team off to its best start in 65 years.

Albert Pujols hit one of the Cardinals' season-high four home runs, backing Todd Wellemeyer's seven effective innings in a 6-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Friday night.

Ludwick and Chris Duncan also connected off Jordan Zimmermann, giving St. Louis homers from its 3-4-5 hitters off the rookie right-hander in his first career loss. Joe Thurston later added his first major league home run for St. Louis, which has won three in a row and nine of 11 overall.

"I feel like the middle of the order has been doing good, but I feel like the whole lineup has been doing a good job," Ludwick said. "I think we're still one of the top offensive leaders in baseball. Combine that with the pitching we're getting and it's a deadly combination."

The Cardinals' 17-7 start is their best since 1944, and they wasted no time in providing Wellemeyer an early lead against the Nationals, whose 5-17 mark is the worst in the majors.

"The main thing is to go out and try to do as much damage as we can," Pujols said. "Anytime you can give a lead to the pitcher, he would love to take it. It gives him something to work on."

Wellemeyer (2-2) allowed two runs on six hits, walked two and struck out three.

"He got into an early grove, and just concentrated great," Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa said. "Lately, he's had some periods, especially early, where he wasn't quite right. He had to compete hard to stay in the game."

The right-hander hopes Friday's start is a repeat of last May, when he went 4-0 and was named the Pitcher of the Month in the National League.

"May last year was excellent to me, so keep it going," Wellemeyer said.

Washington finally got to Wellemeyer in the seventh. Jesus Flores tripled off the wall in center and Willie Harris followed with a homer to right.

Ryan Zimmerman singled in the third, extending his hitting streak to a Nationals-record 20 games. It's the longest streak in the majors this season.

Pujols gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the first on his ninth homer, a towering shot down the left-field line.

A two-run homer by Duncan extended the lead to 3-0 in the fourth. Pujols hit a leadoff double before Duncan sent a 1-0 fastball from Zimmermann (2-1) into the stands in right-center.

In the sixth, Ludwick followed Pujols' third hit of the game with his sixth homer, ending an 0-for-13 skid.

"He's not perfect and he missed with his location a few times," Nationals manager Manny Acta said of Zimmermann. "It happened that every time he missed, the ball went out of the ballpark. He went after them, and that's what we like."

Zimmermann, one of the top young pitching prospects in baseball, allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked none and struck out six.

"Up here, they don't miss hardly as much as they do [in the minors]," said Zimmermann, who had yielded one homer over 11 1/3 innings in his first two starts. "You can't make those mistakes up here."

Thurston lined a homer inside the right-field foul pole in the seventh off Logan Kensing.

Notes

  • St. Louis 2B Skip Schumaker went 0 for 5, ending his hitting streak at a career-best 11 games.
  • Cardinals starting pitchers have allowed only five homers this season.
  • The last 20-game hitting streak by a Washington, D.C.-based player came in 1953 by the Washington Senators' Mickey Vernon.
  • Flores has tripled on consecutive nights after having one triple in his first 187 career games.
 
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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Albert Pujols goes 3-for-4, including a three-run shot -- his ninth homer of the season.  (AP)
Albert Pujols goes 3-for-4, including a three-run shot -- his ninth homer of the season. (AP)

Players of the Game
St. Louis

A. Pujols
AB 4
R 3
H 3
HR 1
RBI 1
Washington

W. Harris
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
 

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St. Louis Cardinals
Skip Schumaker, 2B-LF5000001 .280
Joe Thurston, 3B-2B4111011 .276
Albert Pujols, 1B4331010 .356
Chris Duncan, LF4132011 .329
    Jason Motte, P0000000 .000
    Blaine Boyer, P0000000 .000
Ryan Ludwick, RF4112002 .295
Rick Ankiel, CF4000011 .250
Yadier Molina, C4010011 .329
Tyler Greene, SS4000031 .111
Todd Wellemeyer, P3010010 .250
    Brian Barden, 3B1000010 .375
Totals376106010  
Batting
2B - Albert Pujols (5, Zimmermann), Chris Duncan (8, Rivera)
HR - Joe Thurston (1, Kensing), Albert Pujols (9, Zimmermann), Chris Duncan (3, Zimmermann), Ryan Ludwick (6, Zimmermann)
RBI - Joe Thurston (12), Albert Pujols (29), Chris Duncan 2 (16), Ryan Ludwick 2 (21)
2-OUT RBI - Joe Thurston (4), Albert Pujols (3)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - T. Greene-Schumaker-Pujols, Schumaker-T. Greene-Pujols
St. Louis Cardinals
Todd Wellemeyer (W,2-2) 7622231 5.28
Jason Motte 1200010 4.09
Blaine Boyer 1000010 14.40
Pitches-Strikes - Todd Wellemeyer 109-67, Jason Motte 18-12, Blaine Boyer 14-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Todd Wellemeyer 5-11, Jason Motte 1-1, Blaine Boyer 2-0
Batters Faced - Todd Wellemeyer 27, Jason Motte 5, Blaine Boyer 3
Washington Nationals
Cristian Guzman, SS4000000 .383
Nick Johnson, 1B3020100 .350
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B4020001 .298
Adam Dunn, LF3000124 .297
Elijah Dukes, RF4010003 .278
Jesus Flores, C4120010 .294
Willie Harris, CF4112003 .267
Anderson Hernandez, 2B4000002 .283
Jordan Zimmermann, P2000010 .000
    Logan Kensing, P0000000 .000
   a- Alex Cintron, PH1000010 .000
    Saul Rivera, P0000000 .000
    Joel Hanrahan, P0000000 .000
Totals3328225  
a-struck out for Kensing in the 7th
Batting
2B - Nick Johnson (3, Motte), Elijah Dukes (5, Wellemeyer)
3B - Jesus Flores (2, Wellemeyer)
HR - Willie Harris (1, Wellemeyer)
RBI - Willie Harris 2 (2)
Team LOB - 6
Washington Nationals
Jordan Zimmermann (L,2-1) 5.2855063 4.24
Logan Kensing 1.1111011 8.68
Saul Rivera 1100010 9.28
Joel Hanrahan 1000020 7.20
Pitches-Strikes - Jordan Zimmermann 101-71, Logan Kensing 23-14, Saul Rivera 10-7, Joel Hanrahan 10-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jordan Zimmermann 8-3, Logan Kensing 2-1, Saul Rivera 2-0, Joel Hanrahan 1-0
Batters Faced - Jordan Zimmermann 25, Logan Kensing 5, Saul Rivera 4, Joel Hanrahan 3
Game Information
Attendance - 20697
Game Time - 2:31
Temperature - 76
Umpires - Home - Tim Welke, First Base - Angel Hernandez, Second Base - Bill Welke, Third Base - Kevin Causey