Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/15/11

Albert Pujols powered the Cardinals to a home series win over the Rockies Sunday night.



Albert Pujols took over the National League home run lead at 29 with a 465-foot blast at Busch Stadium on Sunday and had two other hits as he raised his average to a season-high .288. Yadier Molina also had three hits as the Nos. 6 through 8 hitters in the Cardinals' order combined for seven hits.

But the Cardinals' 6-2 win over the Colorado Rockies was achieved just as much, if not more, by relief pitching and defense.

Right-hander Jason Motte, relieving right-hander Edwin Jackson with a 3-0 count and two on in the sixth inning, when Jackson got a cramp in his right hamstring, retired the two hitters he faced (including third baseman Ty Wigginton, who had the 3-0 count on him) to preserve a 4-2 lead.

Then, in the seventh, after left-hander Arthur Rhodes, making his Cardinals debut, walked Colorado center fielder Carlos Gonzalez, right-hander Octavio Dotel entered to fan both shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and first baseman Todd Helton to preserve the same 4-2 lead the Cardinals had protected since the first inning. Dotel then struck out two in a perfect eighth.

By the time right-hander Fernando Salas struck out two of the three men he faced in the ninth, the Cardinals had tacked on two more runs.

As for the defense, the Cardinals turned a half-dozen stellar plays.

Shortstop Rafael Furcal, playing near second base, ranged far toward the left-field line to catch a popup when the Rockies were threatening further in the first inning. Furcal also started a nifty double play when he fielded a ball behind the bag in the fourth.

Center fielder Jon Jay made a brilliant over-the-shoulder catch off Colordo left fielder Eric Young Jr., in the second. And both Pujols and Molia also made their marks defensively.

The Cardinals, in beating Colorado two games out of three, started a stretch in which they will play five consecutive series against teams with losing records before they meet National League Central Division leader Milwaukee in the final few days of the month.



RHP Edwin Jackson earned his second win as a Cardinal in four starts, surviving three hits and walks in the first inning when Colorado scored twice. He lasted 5 1/3 innings and didn't give up any more runs although he had to come out early with a cramp in his right hamstring. Jackson would have an extra day of rest before his next scheduled start Saturday in Chicago. He labored through a 37-pitch first inning before righting himself Sunday.

SS Rafael Furcal's hitting streak ended at eight games but he started the Cardinals' four-run rally in the first by drawing a walk after running a long count. And he continued to give the Cardinals the best defensive play at shortstop they've had all season.

RHP Octavio Dotel, who got four days off after appearing in seven of 10 games following his acquisition from Toronto, certainly appeared well-rested Sunday. Dotel fanned four of the five hitters he faced.

RHP Jake Westbrook will bid to become the Cardinals' third 10-game winner when he pitches at Pittsburgh on Monday night. RHP Kyle Lohse and Jaime Garcia have 10 wins and Westbrook and RHP Kyle McClellan have nine. RHP Jackson also has nine, but seven came with the Chicago White Sox.

The Cardinals have 41 games remaining, 10 with the fast-sliding Pittsburgh Pirates, beginning Monday night with the start of a three-game series in Pittsburgh.

BY THE NUMBERS: 465 - In feet, the longest homer measured at new Busch Stadium hit Sunday by 1B Albert Pujols.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The more patient you are, the more the game comes to you. The more impatient you are, the more the game goes away from you."

- Hitting coach Mark McGwire.




RHP Edwin Jackson (right hamstring cramp) left his Aug. 14 start early. Jackson would have an extra day of rest before his next scheduled start Aug. 20 in Chicago.

RHP Lance Lynn (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 10.

INF Nick Punto (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list July 29.

RHP Eduardo Sanchez (mild right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 13. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Springfield on July 7 but had renewed soreness soon after and was shut down until late August or early September. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 31.

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.


Mon., Aug. 15 at PIRATES: Jake Westbrook (9-6, 4.74) vs. James McDonald (7-6, 4.24) 6:05 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).

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