The Cardinals' 12-8 win Thursday boosted their record to 11-5, tying last year's fast start. But while some of the St. Louis players might be under the proverbial radar, one of them is not Albert Pujols.
Pujols raised his RBI total to 21 with three Thursday, coming on two home runs, marking the 25th time in his career and second time this season he has belted two or more homers in a game. One traveled 429 feet to dead center.
"There's nobody out there better," said La Russa, who has had Pujols for nine seasons. "He's in another generation with Mays, Musial, Aaron. He could hit in that league. He's amazing.
"He's a perfect player, in my opinion."
When the day was over, Pujols had 998 RBIs, and he is likely to be near 1,100 when his ninth season has been completed.
One potential downside was a twisted right knee suffered by Kyle Lohse. The right-hander came to a sudden stop while covering first base in the fifth inning as a ball rolled away from Pujols, who had fielded it and was preparing to toss to Lohse.
Lohse, who came out of the game after the inning, will have an MRI on Friday.
"My guess is he'll be OK," La Russa said. "That was going to be his last inning. We thought he was laboring going into the fifth."
CARDINALS 12, METS 8: For the eighth consecutive game, the Cardinals scored five runs or more, and they have an even 100 runs (6.25 per game) after 16 games. Besides Albert Pujols scoring four runs and driving in three, Rick Ankiel had two doubles and his first homer, and Colby Rasmus and Jason LaRue each had three hits.