Cardinals Major League Notebook: 07/11/09

Ryan Ludwick is getting into a groove hitting behind Albert Pujols. On Friday, the Cubs paid.

Ryan Ludwick, silent much of the first half of the season, has defined the words "cleaning up" in the last four games.

Ludwick has driven in 10 runs in those four games, including seven in the last two games. But, unlike his three-RBI bursts which came on three-run homers on Tuesday and Thursday, Ludwick knocked in four runs at Chicago on Friday on two of his three singles and a sacrifice fly.

"He's feeling better," said manager Tony La Russa. "I still don't think he feels absolutely locked in."

But the opposition is starting to pay now for walking Albert Pujols in front of Ludwick. Pujols walked twice on Friday and both led to runs driven by Ludwick.

"You get a lot of RBI opportunities (hitting behind Pujols), that's for sure," said Ludwick. "Whoever's behind him needs to do the job."

Pujols, of course, has something to do with the win, too. He got his first triple since 2007 to drive in one run and he hit his 32nd homer just into the basket behind the center-field wall at Wrigley Field.

The Cardinals stretched their modest lead in the National League Central Division race but Pujols said, "We didn't make any statement. We just try to care of business. We don't worry about what other people think or what other ball clubs are doing."

CARDINALS 8, CHICAGO 3: With three games remaining on their first-half-ending, 10-game swing through the National League Central Division, the Cardinals already are assured of a .500 trip. They gained their fifth win in the first seven games of the swing as RHP Chris Carpenter, without his best location, allowed only a three-run homer by Chicago 1B Derrek Lee in pitching six innings.

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