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St. Louis at San Diego

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St. Louis (27-21) «0010212208152
San Diego (28-19)0000003003100

Pujols ends drought with homer, three RBI in St. Louis win

CBSSports.com wire reports
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SAN DIEGO -- Albert Pujols insists he was not in a slump. The results are finally supporting him.

Pujols hit his first home run and drove in his first runs in 12 games as the St. Louis Cardinals avoided a sweep with an 8-3 win over the San Diego Padres on Thursday night.

Brendan Ryan tied a career high with four hits and rookie P.J. Walters won his first major league game with five shutout innings. But it was Pujols' play that had everyone's attention, except Pujols.

"I'm just putting a good swing on it," said Pujols, who finished with three RBI. "It's the same swing I've been putting on it all year. Sooner or later they're going to fall."

When advised that some major league scouts following the Cardinals believe his swing in the three games against the Padres were a big improvement over the rest of the month, Pujols said: "That's why they're scouting and I'm playing."

But the numbers don't lie.

Pujols had not homered nor had an RBI since May 14 at Cincinnati. His batting average had dipped from .344 on May 1 to .303 coming into the series, but had three hits in the opener Tuesday. Pujols' 11-game streak without an RBI tied his career high, set during his rookie season of 2001. He had hit just one home run in 28 games since April 26 before he hammered a solo shot for his ninth home run.

And Pujols nearly had another line-drive homer.

"It's always good when Albert's hitting," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "But there's no doubt that he's going to hit."

The Cardinals' offensive outburst helped them avoid their first three-game sweep against San Diego in nearly 15 years.

Pujols lined a homer off Wade LeBlanc (2-3) in the fifth inning that hit off the third-story balcony of the brick Western Metal Supply Co. building in left field.

"It was supposed to be away but it was [in the] middle," LeBlanc said. "It was supposed to be the pitch he popped up in the first inning."

The three-time MVP nearly did the same thing in the third. But his hard smash with two runners on hit just foul down the left-field line. Pujols followed with a grounder that drove in one run.

"You can't treat guys differently," LeBlanc said about facing Pujols when he is in a slump. "He's always Albert Pujols."

Pujols, who came into the series with just three hits in 20 at-bats, added a sacrifice fly in the seventh Thursday as St. Louis broke out of its offensive doldrums with 15 hits. The Cardinals had scored just one run in dropping the first two games of the series, including Wednesday night's 2-1 loss in 13 innings.

"It's part of the game," Pujols said. "We've been facing good pitching [in this series]. We had a lot of chances. But this is the big leagues. It doesn't matter what kind of chances you have ... Sometimes you hit the ball hard or sometimes you hit a blooper and it gets you going."

Ryan, who came in hitting .175, had four hits for the third time in his career, including a solo homer in the fifth, two batters ahead of Pujols. Ryan also scored three runs to tie his career high.

"I almost feel like my life is on the line in every at-bat," Ryan said. "I'm treating every at-bat like it's my last one. As cliche as that may sound, I don't know if I'm playing tomorrow. I just have to do the best I can."

Walters (1-0) gave up four hits, struck out four and walked two in his second big league start, his first this season.

Walters pitched out of a pair of two-out, bases-loaded jams against the NL West-leading Padres. He retired LeBlanc on a fly ball in the second and struck out Chase Headley in the fifth.

San Diego, which won the first two games of the series 1-0 and 2-1, had its four-game winning streak snapped.

St. Louis has hit only 14 homers in 25 games in May.

LeBlanc, who had been solid in his first six starts this season, was hit hard for the second straight game.

The left-hander gave up four runs on nine hits over 5 2/3 innings. LeBlanc lasted just three innings in his last outing, a 15-8 loss at Seattle on Friday when he allowed a career-high eight runs.

LeBlanc had allowed two or fewer runs in each of his first six starts.

The Padres were looking to sweep St. Louis in a three-game series for the first time since August 1995.

Notes
  • St. Louis placed RHP Kyle Lohse on the DL with exertional compartment syndrome in his right forearm. It's an exercise-induced neuromuscular condition that causes pain and swelling in legs or arms and can be difficult to identify. Lohse is scheduled to have surgery on Friday.
  • Ryan last had four hits on July 27 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • After not allowing a home run in his first six starts, LeBlanc has given up four in his last two.
 
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 gives thanks as his 12 game power drought comes to an end with a homer in the fifth. (AP)
Albert Pujols gives thanks as his 12 game power drought comes to an end with a homer in the fifth. (AP)

Players of the Game
St. Louis

B. Ryan
AB 4
R 3
H 4
HR 1
RBI 1
San Diego

J. Hairston
AB 4
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
 
St. Louis Cardinals
Brendan Ryan, SS4341000 .203
Ryan Ludwick, CF-RF5132001 .287
Albert Pujols, 1B4113002 .305
Matt Holliday, LF3021200 .286
David Freese, 3B5120014 .313
Nick Stavinoha, RF3010001 .300
    Blake Hawksworth, P1000012 .000
    Trever Miller, P0000000 .000
    Mitchell Boggs, P0000000 .000
    Dennys Reyes, P0000000 .000
   a- Jon Jay, PH1000000 .250
    Jason Motte, P0000000 .000
Jason LaRue, C4000004 .167
Skip Schumaker, 2B4121011 .250
P.J. Walters, P2000010 .000
   b- Joe Mather, PH-CF1000011 .191
   c- Colby Rasmus, PH-CF0100100 .261
Totals37815835  
a-flied out for Reyes in the 9th
b-struck out for Walters in the 6th
c-walked for Mather in the 8th
Batting
2B - Ryan Ludwick (11, Russell)
3B - Skip Schumaker (1, LeBlanc)
HR - Brendan Ryan (1, LeBlanc), Albert Pujols (9, LeBlanc)
SF - Albert Pujols (1)
SH - Brendan Ryan (4)
RBI - Brendan Ryan (8), Ryan Ludwick 2 (21), Albert Pujols 3 (32), Matt Holliday (19), Skip Schumaker (10)
2-OUT RBI - Albert Pujols (16), Skip Schumaker (4)
SB - Brendan Ryan (2, 2nd base off LeBlanc/Hundley)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Freese-Schumaker-Pujols
E - David Freese (6, Misplayed grounder), Brendan Ryan (8, Throwing)
St. Louis Cardinals
P.J. Walters (W,1-0) 5400240 2.00
Blake Hawksworth 1433010 5.40
Trever Miller 0.2000100 3.38
Mitchell Boggs (H,2) 0.1200000 3.98
Dennys Reyes 1000100 0.55
Jason Motte 1000000 2.89
WP - Trever Miller (2)
Pitches-Strikes - P.J. Walters 93-56, Blake Hawksworth 27-18, Trever Miller 17-7, Mitchell Boggs 10-5, Dennys Reyes 9-5, Jason Motte 9-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - P.J. Walters 4-8, Blake Hawksworth 1-1, Trever Miller 2-0, Mitchell Boggs 1-0, Dennys Reyes 2-0, Jason Motte 2-1
Batters Faced - P.J. Walters 22, Blake Hawksworth 7, Trever Miller 3, Mitchell Boggs 3, Dennys Reyes 3, Jason Motte 3
San Diego Padres
Will Venable, RF4120110 .238
David Eckstein, 2B5110001 .297
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B4000102 .268
Chase Headley, 3B5011023 .275
Nick Hundley, C4010101 .253
Jerry Hairston Jr., SS4021022 .241
Chris Denorfia, LF4010004 .286
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF2000101 .174
    Adam Russell, P0000000 .000
   a- Oscar Salazar, PH1010000 .233
    Edward Mujica, P0000000 .000
Wade LeBlanc, P2000003 .429
    Joe Thatcher, P0000000 .000
    Luis Durango, CF2110001 .250
Totals37310245  
a-singled for Russell in the 8th
Batting
2B - Nick Hundley (5, Hawksworth)
RBI - Chase Headley (19), Jerry Hairston Jr. (15)
2-OUT RBI - Jerry Hairston Jr. (8)
Team LOB - 11
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Chris Denorfia 1
DP - Gonzalez-Hairston, Hairston-Eckstein-Gonzalez
San Diego Padres
Wade LeBlanc (L,2-3) 5.2944222 3.71
Joe Thatcher 0.1000010 2.45
Adam Russell 2644110 3.72
Edward Mujica 1000010 3.00
WP - Wade LeBlanc (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Wade LeBlanc 109-67, Joe Thatcher 4-3, Adam Russell 48-27, Edward Mujica 8-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Wade LeBlanc 5-8, Adam Russell 3-1, Edward Mujica 1-1
Batters Faced - Wade LeBlanc 26, Joe Thatcher 1, Adam Russell 12, Edward Mujica 3
Game Information
Attendance - 20583
Game Time - 3:20
Temperature - 75
Umpires - Home - Dale Scott, First Base - Jerry Meals, Second Base - Mark Wegner, Third Base - Dan Iassogna