The combination of right-hander Jeff Suppan and catcher Gary Bennett worked for a fourth straight time Wednesday in a 7-4 win over Colorado. Bennett gives starting catcher Yadier Molina one day off in every five.
"Yadi's a great catcher," Suppan said. "I've enjoyed throwing to him, but this is how it's worked out."
Suppan fanned a season-high seven but lasted just five innings, giving up three runs.
Albert Pujols cracked his 18th homer in the Cardinals' 35th game. Only Cy Williams of the 1923 Phillies hit his 18th sooner, homering in his team's 34th game.
"I'm sure there have been better starts," Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen said. "But there can't be too many, can there?"
Indeed, Pujols is ahead of the homer paces of both Mark McGwire of the Cardinals and San Francisco's Barry Bonds, when they hit record-breaking home run totals of 70 and 73, respectively, in 1998 and 2001.
But even as hot as Pujols is now, he will be hard pressed to stay ahead of Bonds. Bonds hit his 18th, 19th and 20th in the Giants' 42nd game in 2001.
That hat trick came in the midst of a furious six-game stretch in which Bonds clouted nine home runs, at least one in every game, and by Game 45 of the Giants' season, he had 24. Pujols would have to homer six more times in the next 10 games just to match that.
REPLAY: For the 10th time in 22 Cardinals victories, Albert Pujols drove in the game-winning run. This time, it was a two-run homer to left in the first inning in a 7-4 victory over Colorado.
Juan Encarnacion struck out three more times -- he has 25 whiffs to just one walk -- but he whacked a two-run homer in the third.
-- Scout.com's, St. Louis Cardinals Publisher, Ray Mileur will be a guest tonight on "Circle the Bases" with Mike Huss of WGNU AM 920.
--2B Aaron Miles said he would have enjoyed going 6 for 9 in a three-game series against anyone. But after getting three singles Wednesday, he admitted that it meant more to do so against the Rockies. He was traded by Colorado in the offseason.
--OF Larry Bigbie is back from his injury rehabilitation (stress fracture, left heel), but he still will have trouble getting into the lineup. Manager Tony La Russa said extra sessions before games are planned for Bigbie so that he can get more at-bats but said he wished Bigbie could have had 35 more at-bats at Triple-A Memphis than the 35 he had, when he had only five hits and struck out 14 times.
--LHP Tyler Johnson's first appearance for the Cardinals this year consisted of six pitches Wednesday and a groundball to second base in the sixth inning. But with a left-handed-dominant Arizona team coming to St. Louis for the weekend, Johnson figures to get more time.
"I'm excited about it," said Johnson.
--Former Cardinal LHP Ray King of the Rockies fanned Cardinals CF Jim Edmonds, the only batter he faced, to end the sixth inning. King has allowed just one hit to Edmonds in nine career at-bats, although Edmonds hit a sacrifice fly off King on Monday.
--RHP Will Cunnane, who has a 13-12 mark with four major league teams, has been signed to pitch for Triple-A Memphis. He had been pitching in the independent Atlantic League.