The Cardinals Major League Notebook 0730

The Cardinals have made a habit of beating up on inferior or undermanned teams, and the Atlanta Braves are both right now.

Aggressive Cardinals baserunning for the second night in succession forced the Braves into a string of mistakes as the Cardinals won for the second night in a row.

After Albert Pujols tied the game at 2-2 in customary fashion with a seventh-inning home run, he untied it in unusual fashion -- with his legs.

Pujols, who had been disabled with a strained calf earlier in the season, stole third with one out in the eighth and scored the go-ahead run when catcher Corky Miller threw wild to third. Troy Glaus, who was hitting, did the smart thing and did not move as Miller came up throwing and had fire around Glaus.

"Albert's not a threat to steal, but he's a great baserunner," said manager Tony La Russa.

A throwing error by replacement Braves first baseman Greg Norton in the ninth helped the Cardinals score five more runs in an inning when an Atlanta outfielder threw to a wrong base.

Catcher Yadier Molina was a hitting and baserunning star again. Molina had three hits, sliding into first to avoid a tag on one of the hits, and sliding home with a run as he scored all the way from first on Brendan Ryan's bloop double in the second.

"I don't know what's going on," said Molina, who added, "Running from first to home was fun."

Ryan Franklin, back in his accustomed role of setup man, gained the win with two scoreless innings of relief. Franklin, who had been closing in Jason Isringhausen's stead, had given up homers in each of his previous three outings.

"Getting three outs without giving up a run felt good," Franklin said. "But 14 saves ... when I never did it before ... that's not bad."

CARDINALS 8, BRAVES 3: Over two nights, the Cardinals have scored 20 runs as they climbed back within one game of Milwaukee for the wild-card lead. Albert Pujols knocked in his eighth run in the last four games when he homered to tie the game in the seventh.

NOTES AND QUOTES

--RHP Chris Carpenter, out since opening day 2007 with an elbow injury that required surgery, will return to start Wednesday at Atlanta. "I don't know what to expect, but I'm looking forward to going out there and competing again," he said.

--RHP Adam Wainwright went full-tilt with his fastball and changeup but not as much with his curveball as again he tested his sprained right middle finger in a bullpen session. Wainwright is scheduled to face Cardinals hitters in a simulated-game session Thursday, and his next move might be a rehabilitation assignment.

--RHP Todd Wellemeyer, having trouble locating his fastball, nonetheless held Atlanta to two runs in six innings. "It looked like he was trying to throw too hard," manager Tony La Russa said.

Wellemeyer agreed. "I was pretty fired up," he said. "I need to calm down a little bit."

--The Cardinals have won the first two games of the four-game series, and RHP Todd Wellemeyer, admittedly excited about RHP Chris Carpenter returning, said, "I think we can get the next two."

--RHP Jason Isringhausen was warming up in the ninth to resume his closing duties but sat down when the Cardinals scored five runs to take the game out of a save situation. RHP Kyle McClellan finished up.

BY THE NUMBERS: 23 and 25 -- Bullpen losses and blown saves, respectively, for the Cardinals, as they hit the two-thirds mark of the season.


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