The Cardinals Major League Notebook 09/27

First baseman Albert Pujols probably can't catch Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones in the National League batting average race but he's closing most impressively.

Going 3-for-3 for the second straight night, Pujols now has seven straight hits, raising his average from .350 to .357, still eight points short of passing Jones.

There is hope, though, because Jones is advertised as playing Saturday in Houston.

"Albert is a great player," said manager Tony La Russa. "He's in the tradition of great Cardinal players and he's as great as anybody playing today. And he shows it to you all the time. Just watch. He's not just a great hitter, he's a great winning player."

The Cardinals' 84th win -- their fourth in a row -- was their most since the 2005 season, when they won 100. They won only 83 when they captured the world title in 2006, although they had a spate of injuries in the second half of that season that slowed their march.

"If we'd had anything like our team then, we'd have had a lot better record," said La Russa.

Right-hander Ryan Franklin gained his sixth win but he blew right-hander Braden Looper's 13th win when Franklin gave up a game-tying homer to Cincinnati pinch hitter Javier Valentin in the ninth.

Looper, who tripled in one of the seven Cardinal runs, finished 12-14, failing to win in his last six starts despite pitching well in most of them.

"There rarely is justice in this game," said La Russa. "He should have somewhere between 16 to 18 wins if things were just somewhat normal. To have a losing record is just really unfair."

CARDINALS 7, REDS 6: 3B Troy Glaus' ninth-inning sacrifice fly gave the Cardinals their fourth win in a row Friday and raised Glaus' RBI total to 96. 2B Felipe Lopez had his fifth three-hit game as a Cardinal in just two months with them and is hitting .372 since he joined them following his release by Washington.


--RHP Chris Carpenter, who wants to see a couple more doctors, still is weighing options to repair a nerve problem near his right shoulder. But if he elects surgery, it would have to be performed in the next several weeks to give him a chance of pitching near the start of next season. Dr. George Paletta said Carpenter should be ready to pitch at the start of next season without the surgery -- and just normal healing -- but cautioned that there were no guarantees that the condition wouldn't crop up again.

--C Yadier Molina, out for much of the last two weeks with a bruised left thigh, will appear before the end of the season, if only as a pinch-hitter, said manager Tony La Russa. Molina said he wanted to play Saturday night but La Russa said, "We're going to do the right thing."

--2B Adam Kennedy had two triples, giving him three in the last two games. The last Cardinals' player to have two triples was 2B Aaron Miles two years ago.

--1B Albert Pujols has seven straight hits and eight in his last nine at-bats.

--With RHP Braden Looper's triple, the Cardinals had three in a nine-inning game for the first time since 1997.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- Number of years (2008) in which 1B Albert Pujols has drawn 100 walks.

QUOTE TO NOTE. "He's like a linebacker ready to take somebody's head off." -- RHP Adam Wainwright, on rookie RHP Jason Motte.

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