The Cardinals Major League Notebook 05/07

First baseman Albert Pujols, who has driven in more runs (109 in 132 games) and has a higher average (.371) against Pittsburgh than he has against any other team in the National League, homered once and singled three times in a 4-for-4 night that raised his average to .611 and slugging mark to 1.000 against the Pirates this year.

Pujols homered in the first off Pittsburgh LHP Zach Duke, against whom Pujols is 14-for-28 (.500) in his career.

"I don't know what numbers I have against him," said Pujols. "You can go 0-for-4 or you can go 4-for-4 and your career can change.

"You look for one zone and if the ball is there, hopefully you don't miss it. And that's what I did tonight."

The advantage of having 13 pitchers on his roster, many of them rested, enabled Cardinals manager Tony La Russa to pull off something that even he rarely does. La Russa employed three pitchers in the fifth inning of a game the Cardinals already led by two runs.

In all, it took six pitchers for the Cardinals to snap their losing streak at three games.

Cardinals 4, Pirates 2: LF Chris Duncan, who was just 5-for-34 (.147) against left-handed pitchers last year, tripled in two runs against LHP Zach Duke to break a 1-1 tie in the fourth. Duncan is 9-for-32 (.281) against left-handers this year. RHP Ryan Franklin, unscored on in 12 outings covering 12 1/3 innings, gained his eighth save in eight tries.

Notes, Quotes

• Rookie RHP Mitchell Boggs, making his third start in place of injured RHP Chris Carpenter(notes), didn't make five innings Wednesday, but the Cardinals are 3-0 in his starts. "I've got to get better," said Boggs, who threw 43 balls out of 85 pitches. "Obviously, I didn't have my best command, but I was able to get out of some jams. The guys played great tonight."

• For only the second time this season, manager Tony La Russa had a position player, CF Colby Rasmus, hitting ninth Wednesday, behind pitcher Mitchell Boggs. Rasmus had good swings but went 0-for-3. La Russa used a position player batting ninth in every game last season.

Before Tuesday, 1B Albert Pujols hadn't homered off RHP Brad Lidge in the regular season, although his playoff home run off Lidge in 2005 was the stuff of legend. Pujols hit a 447-foot solo shot off Lidge in the ninth inning Tuesday. That was his only hit of the night, and his career average of .272 against Philadelphia is his lowest against National League teams. Pujols, however, reached base for the 26th straight game.

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