Mired in Slump Pujols Hits Two Home Runs

On the day a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story tried to detail the reasons for Albert Pujols' slow start, Pujols cracked two homers and drove in five runs. The headline read, "What's Ailing Albert?" a fair question considering Pujols was hitting .158 at the time.

After Sunday's game, though, manager Tony La Russa said, "There isn't anything different about Albert. When the season's over, he'll have another solid year."

While Pujols had his best day of the season, left fielder Chris Duncan had another in a series of big days. His four hits, including his third homer of the season, represented a career high, and Duncan is hitting .412 on the strength of a 7-for-10 run over his last three games.

Duncan also is attempting to prove La Russa right when he said the converted first baseman would be "average at worst" in the outfield. Duncan made an excellent over-the-shoulder catch on Milwaukee right-hander Ben Sheets' drive in the second inning, matching other strong plays in the outfield made by Jim Edmonds in center field and Preston Wilson in right.

After scoring only four runs in their first four home games, not surprisingly all losses, the Cardinals raked Milwaukee pitching for 13 hits. The Cardinals have scored more than four runs in a game only twice this season, but both have come on the first two Sundays of the season.

CARDINALS 10, BREWERS 2: Albert Pujols hadn't homered at Busch Stadium since last September, but he pounded two into the visiting bullpen Sunday, driving in five runs. LF Chris Duncan had perhaps his best day with the big club with a career-high four hits, including a home run. And RHP Braden Looper, a converted reliever, pitched six innings or more for the third straight time, as he posted his second win. Looper allowed two runs in the first inning but then gave up only two hits from the second through the sixth.


--RF Preston Wilson, a right-handed hitter, got the start against Milwaukee RHP Ben Sheets on Sunday because of Wilson's .353 (six for 17) lifetime mark against Sheets. Wilson had only one hit, but scored three runs. Wilson, the Cardinals' only African-American player, wore his socks high in honor of Jackie Robinson on the 60th anniversary of Robinson's having broken the color barrier in 1947.

--2B Adam Kennedy had only his second multi-hit game of the season but it lifted his average to .207, his highest since the first day of the season.

--1B Albert Pujols' two-homer game was the 17th of his career.

--RHP Braden Looper, winning his second game of the season, has 11 victories over the last two seasons for the Cardinals.

--RHP Ryan Franklin has retired the first hitter he has faced in all six of his outings.

BY THE NUMBERS: 37-15 -- The Cardinals' all-time record at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You just come to the park, stay with your routine and eventually good things will happen." -- 1B Albert Pujols, who had been slumping until smacking two home runs Sunday against Milwaukee.

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