The previously unproductive Cardinals outfield delivered four hits; three by left fielder So Taguchi, drove in two runs (both by Taguchi) and scored three times Monday night in a 7-2 romp over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Taguchi, who hit .407 with men in scoring position last season, was only one for eight in that department this year, but he delivered twice in two chances last night off left-handed pitcher Oliver Perez. He is 8-for-22 (.364) against left-handed pitching this season and 4-for-25 against right-handers.
But unlike his drive off Perez last week when he flipped his bat in an 8-2 game, Pujols quietly went into his home-run trot this time.
Besides Encarnacion, Taguchi and third baseman Scott Rolen also had strong defensive games. "We had plays made all over the field," said manager Tony La Russa.
REPLAY: After first baseman Albert Pujols homered in the first, the Cardinals peppered Oliver Perez for three singles and three runs in the second.
Chris Carpenter wasn't as keen as he had been in his previous three starts (one run in 22 innings), but he gave up only two runs in six innings to post his third win in four decisions.
"He wasn't as sharp as he's ever been, but he made a lot of good pitches," said manager Tony La Russa.
--C Yadier Molina, who threw out 23 of the 37 runners who tried to steal on him last season, caught his first in five attempts this year when he nabbed Pittsburgh's Jason Bay in the first inning Monday.
--2B Hector Luna had two more hits while starting at second base. Luna has three multi-hit games as a starter and is 11-for-28 (.393) overall.
Luna, who started the season as a utility man, gradually is winning the second-base job.
"We all feel comfortable wherever he plays," said manager Tony La Russa.
--RHP Adam Wainwright continued his impressive relief pitching. He fanned two of the three hitters he faced and has given up only five hits and one run in 9 2/3 innings.
--The Cardinals have won 22 of their last 27 games with the Pirates.