Cardinals Major League Notebook: 04/16/11

Lance Berkman and Albert Pujols hit two home runs each as the Cardinals beat the Dodgers Friday night in Los Angeles.



Right fielder Lance Berkman hit two home runs Friday night. Nothing new there. Berkman has six homers in his last five games.

First baseman Albert Pujols also had two home runs. No news there, when you consider that this was the 40th multi-homer game of his career. But in this young season it was news because it was Pujols' first multi-homer game as he continued to dig himself out of an early-season hole.

In general, nothing at all new for the Cardinals offense, which bashed a season-high 19 hits in an 11-2 win at Los Angeles. It marked the fifth straight game in which the Cardinals had at least 14 hits and the fourth consecutive game in which they had 16 or more. And it was the fifth straight game in which the Cardinals had scored at least eight runs.

This was the same team that scored just 21 runs in its first eight games. "Guys were trying to get 10 hits in one at-bat," said hitting coach Mark McGwire before Friday's game. "They've just been more patient."

Some streaks continued. Center fielder Colby Rasmus extended his hitting streak to eight games (17-for-39) with a three-double contest, marking his ninth multi-hit game of the year. Shortstop Ryan Theriot had just one of the 19 hits but it hiked his streak to seven games. And third baseman David Freese is at six games (13-for-23) after a three-hit night, marking his fifth straight multi-game as a starter.

Some streaks are beginning. Catcher Yadier Molina, who had only five hits in his first nine starts, has had six hits in his last two games, including four singles (and a walk) on Friday.

But it always will come back to Pujols, who was at .128 just a few days ago but who is nine for his last 19 with three home runs in the last two games. "Why am I going to worry?" the three-time National League Most Valuable Player said. "I've been so successful the last 11 years of my professional career. You always try to start on a good pace, but you can't panic.'


Not to be lost in the euphoria over the Cardinals' continued torrid offense was another strong start by RHP Kyle Lohse. After working eight innings in a victory on Sunday, Lohse pitched 7 1/3 innings of two-run ball on Friday. Pitching coach Dave Duncan visited Lohse in the fifth inning during one of his few critical situations Friday. Lohse proceeded to get out of a second-and-third, one-out spot and rattled off five strikeouts—all of them on called third strikes—in a space of eight hitters. "He was on the black (part of the plate) all the time," said manager Tony La Russa. "He really painted. A couple of times he was really tested and he came back and made good pitches."

RF Lance Berkman, who had only 13 homers last year, already has six—all in the last five games. Berkman also made a couple of good catches in the outfield Friday. "I didn't know (about Berkman) until we had him in camp," said Tony La Russa. "I just watched his bat speed."

1B Albert Pujols has six homers now on April 15, the day baseball honors pioneer Jackie Robinson. "What Jackie Robinson did for baseball on and off the field is something that I'm always going to admire," said Pujols. "It's more special having (the day) here in Dodger Stadium."

The Cardinals have had 14 or more hits in five straight games, marking the first time that had happened for the Cardinals since late in the 1930 season.

3B David Freese has jumped his average from .150 to .372 in the midst of a six-game hitting streak (13-for-23). He is playing nearly every day now after being handled gingerly in spring training because Freese was coming off surgeries on both ankles.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1000-998 - With wins in the first two games of their series with the Dodgers, the Cardinals have a two-game edge in their lifetime season series with the Brooklyn-Los Angeles franchise. The Cardinals also have 1,000 or more wins against Philadelphia, Chicago, Pittsburgh and the Boston-Milwaukee-Atlanta franchise.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's not like I woke up the next day and forgot how to hit."

- 1B Albert Pujols, red-hot now after an uncharacteristic slow start.



LHP Bryan Tallet (fractured right hand) went on 15-day disabled list April 13.

RHP Bryan Augenstein (strained right groin) went on the 15-day disabled list April 13.

INF Nick Punto (hernia surgery in February 2011) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He hopes to return in late April.

RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He will miss the entire 2011 season.

Next game: Sat., Apr. 16 at DODGERS: Kyle McClellan (1-0, 2.25) vs. Clayton Kershaw (2-1, 1.37) 9:10 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network)

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