|St. Louis (63-55) «||2||0||1||0||2||0||0||0||x||5||9||0|
Pujols kicked off a 4-for-4 night with a solo homer and the Cardinals beat the Brewers 5-2 on Thursday to avoid a three-game sweep.
St. Louis pulled within four games of NL Central-leading Milwaukee, which has won 13 of 15. The Cardinals are the only team to beat the Brewers during their hot streak.
|More on Brewers at Cardinals|
Pujols almost doubled his hit total for the season against Milwaukee. The big first baseman entered with just five hits in 42 at-bats against the Cardinals' main division rival, but he put that slide behind him with a drive in the first against Yovani Gallardo (13-8).
Pujols moved into a tie with teammate Lance Berkman for the National League lead with 28 homers and added three singles to up his average to .284.
"The last couple of days, no hits," Pujols said. "Today, four hits. What did I change? Nothing.
"I'm just trying to be consistent like I have. I think anyone would love to have those numbers I have after 100-plus games."
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa stopped short of calling it a must-win game, but was pleased with the effort.
"Do or die is the last couple of weeks when the numbers are staring you in the face," La Russa said. "There was a lot of urgency today. We beat a very good pitcher."
"I think we had a great road trip," Fielder said. "We had a great series here. I think we played good baseball tonight as well."
After last week's series in Milwaukee, which featured ejections and warnings for hit batters, this three-game set was fairly tame. The only thing close to an outburst came in the top of the eighth inning when all four umpires gathered briefly near third base and sent the Milwaukee bench a message.
"[There were] just some comments that were made from a couple of players," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "They were telling me to keep one of our players quiet."
St. Louis took its first lead of the series in the third with some help from the Brewers. Second baseman Felipe Lopez booted Furcal's ground ball leading off the inning, allowing him to reach first. Furcal was forced at second by Jay, but Pujols and Berkman followed with singles to plate Jay.
That same combination worked again in the fifth when Jay singled to right with two out, stole second and scored on Pujols' single to center. Pujols moved to third on Berkman's single to right and came home on a wild pitch to make it 5-2.
"Obviously, it's a nice win," Carpenter said. "We needed this one. I went out and gave up the two early and we got the two right back and started over again. That was key."
Gallardo gave up five runs, four earned, and seven hits in five innings.
"I just left the ball up," he said. "That first inning, a curveball up in the zone [to Pujols]. He's a good hitter. He's going to take advantage of those mistakes."
|With his solo shot off Yovani Gallardo, Albert Pujols ties teammate Lance Berkman for the NL lead with 28 home runs. (Getty Images)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Corey Hart, RF||4||1||1||0||0||1||3||.277|
|Nyjer Morgan, CF||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.323|
|Mark Kotsay, LF||3||1||2||1||1||0||0||.258|
|Prince Fielder, 1B||4||0||1||1||0||1||3||.303|
|Casey McGehee, 3B||4||0||1||0||0||0||3||.235|
|Yuniesky Betancourt, SS||4||0||3||0||0||1||1||.270|
|Felipe Lopez, 2B||3||0||0||0||1||1||2||.216|
|Jonathan Lucroy, C||4||0||0||0||0||1||3||.282|
|Yovani Gallardo, P||1||0||0||0||1||1||2||.231|
|Kameron Loe, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Craig Counsell, PH||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.154|
|Frankie De La Cruz, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Tim Dillard, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- George Kottaras, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.221|
|a-singled for Loe in the 7th|
|b-popped out for Dillard in the 9th|
|2B - Mark Kotsay (8, Carpenter)|
|RBI - Mark Kotsay (22), Prince Fielder (88)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|DP - Betancourt-F. Lopez-Fielder|
|E - Corey Hart (1, Misplayed grounder), Felipe Lopez (4, Misplayed grounder)|
|Yovani Gallardo (L,13-8)||5||7||5||4||1||3||2||3.67|
|Frankie De La Cruz||1||1||0||0||0||1||0||0.00|
|WP - Yovani Gallardo (8)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Yovani Gallardo 92-56, Kameron Loe 12-7, Frankie De La Cruz 12-8, Tim Dillard 15-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Yovani Gallardo 6-6, Frankie De La Cruz 2-0, Tim Dillard 3-0|
|Batters Faced - Yovani Gallardo 23, Kameron Loe 4, Frankie De La Cruz 4, Tim Dillard 4|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Rafael Furcal, SS||4||1||1||1||0||0||0||.207|
|Jon Jay, CF||4||2||1||0||0||2||1||.297|
|Albert Pujols, 1B||4||2||4||2||0||0||0||.284|
|Lance Berkman, RF||4||0||2||1||0||1||1||.293|
|Daniel Descalso, 3B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.261|
|David Freese, 3B||3||0||0||0||1||0||2||.316|
|Skip Schumaker, RF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.288|
|Allen Craig, LF||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.316|
|Fernando Salas, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Yadier Molina, C||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.292|
|Ryan Theriot, 2B||3||0||0||0||1||0||1||.271|
|Chris Carpenter, P||3||0||0||0||0||2||1||.180|
|Corey Patterson, LF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.247|
|HR - Rafael Furcal (3, Gallardo), Albert Pujols (28, Gallardo)|
|RBI - Rafael Furcal (17), Albert Pujols 2 (72), Lance Berkman (76)|
|2-OUT RBI - Albert Pujols (23)|
|SB - Jon Jay (6, 2nd base off Gallardo/Lucroy)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|DP - Freese-Theriot-Pujols, Theriot-Furcal-Pujols, Furcal-Theriot-Pujols, Theriot-Furcal-Pujols|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Chris Carpenter (W,8-8)||8||10||2||2||3||4||0||3.68|
|Fernando Salas (S,22)||1||0||0||0||0||2||0||2.24|
|WP - Chris Carpenter (3)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Chris Carpenter 119-74, Fernando Salas 17-11|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Carpenter 8-8|
|Batters Faced - Chris Carpenter 33, Fernando Salas 3|
|Attendance - 38302|
|Game Time - 2:34|
|Temperature - 81|
|Umpires - Home - Greg Gibson, First Base - Gerry Davis, Second Base - Angel Hernandez, Third Base - Mike Estabrook|