The Redbird Report 04/12

That Albert Pujols would drive in four runs with a three-run homer and a double Friday wasn't headline news. Pujols has been doing these sorts of things for eight seasons. But the first pairing of young outfielders Skip Schumaker and Brian Barton at the top of the order brought unexpected dividends.

The left-handed-hitting Schumaker had gone 0-for-16 to start the season, and the right-handed-hitting Barton had started three games in his stead last weekend. But Barton hadn't started since as injured left fielder Chris Duncan returned and Schumaker found his stroke.

On Friday night, leadoff man Schumaker reached five base five times on three hits and two errors and scored four runs. Barton, hitting second for the first time against San Francisco left-hander Barry Zito, had two hits and drove in his first two big-league runs.

Additionally, Schumaker and Barton threw out runners at the plate on successive plays after fielding singles in the fourth after San Francisco had gone ahead 2-1 and threatened to blow the game open.

"We miss both those guys, and it's a different ballgame," said manager Tony La Russa. "Who knows what kind of inning they're going to have?"

Schumaker is 9-for-17 after his awful start. "But, even with his slow start ... he never stopped taking good at-bats," said La Russa. "He couldn't get the ball to fall."

CARDINALS 8, SAN FRANCISCO 2: RHP Kyle Lohse finally allowed a run after starting his Cardinals career with 15 1/3 scoreless innings. He gained his second win with airtight relief help from RHPs Kyle McClellan, Ryan Franklin and Kelvin Jimenez.

1B Albert Pujols hit his third home run in his last three games.


--1B Albert Pujols has knocked in seven runs in his last three games after having just one in his first eight games. "When there's guys on base, he's as tough an out as there is," said manager Tony La Russa.

--RHP Kyle Lohse allowed 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings but only two runs before being removed. "I saw him making mistakes up," said La Russa. "I wanted to get him out before the big damage."

--OF Skip Schumaker has scored six runs in his last three games. Citing such hitters as Pujols behind him, Schumaker said, "It's a good system. If I can get on, I usually score."

--3B Troy Glaus drove in a run for the fifth successive game with a seventh-inning fielder's choice.

--The Cardinals took a 1 1/2 game lead in the National League Central Division, their biggest lead since the last day of the 2006 season.

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