The Cardinals left a calling card that the National League Central race is not quite over.
And Albert Pujols served notice that an 11th consecutive season of at least .300 average, 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in still is possible.
"Taking three games out of three was more than we were asking for," Pujols said.
Pujols, meanwhile, had his best offensive day of the season with four hits, including two home runs, and five RBI. He raised his average to a season-high .292 and his RBI total to 84 with his 33rd and 34th home runs.
That total leads the league and the second homer was the 12th grand slam of his career.
In bases-loaded situations for his career, Pujols is 48-for-125 (.384) with an astonishing 163 RBI. Both home runs on Thursday came off right-handed ace Yovani Gallardo.
"Is he the same Albert? The answer is 'yes,' " manager Tony La Russa said.
Furcal's was his second leadoff home run in two nights and the 29th of his career. As he did on Wednesday, Pujols followed with a solo home run of his own in the first inning. This one went 462 feet to left field.
"(Gallardo) left a couple of pitches up and we took advantage," said Pujols, who drilled his grand slam to the opposite field.
RHP Octavio Dotel gained his first victory as a Cardinal. Relieving rookie RHP Brandon Dickson with two on and one out in the fourth, Dotel retired eight of the nine men to face him, fanning five. He had extra life on his fastball after having four days off.
While the Cardinals were
RHP Jason Motte ran his streak of scoreless appearances to 20 and streak of appearances without allowing an earned run to 32 with a scoreless ninth. Again the Cardinals' bullpen excelled, giving up only one run in 5 2/3 innings. That means the bullpen has permitted two runs in its last 28 2/3 innings over eight games.
SS Rafael Furcal, a
switch hitter, led off Thursday's game with a home run while batting
left-handed, after opening Wednesday's game with a right-handed home run. He has
four home runs as a Cardinal, all against
RHP Brandon Dickson, just recalled from Class AAA Memphis. made his first major league start. He worked two scoreless innings, allowed three runs on two home runs in the third and was replaced in the fourth. "He wasn't spooked," manager Tony La Russa said. "I thought he handled himself very well. He's got a good future here."
RHP Kyle Lohse, the
club's leading winner at 12-8 but inconsistent lately, was in the bullpen for a
second day in succession and will be there again on Friday. He has been skipped
virtually an entire turn and he next will start on Tuesday at home against
BY THE NUMBERS: 10-for-53 - 1B Albert Pujols' batting performance against Milwaulkee before Thursday. He was 4-for-4 on Thursday.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Even with their hot streak, we should have been closer. We should have done more. I don't think they're too worried."
- Manager Tony La Russa,
INF Nick Punto (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list July 29. He began a rehab stint with Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday.
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.
VIDEO FROM FOXSPORTSMIDWEST.COM
Albert Pujols and manager Tony La Russa share thoughts following the 8-4 win over Milwaukee.