Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/05/09

What slump? Albert Pujols leads the Cards to a big comeback win over the Mets.

INSIDE PITCH

 

The seemingly thousands who were gnashing their teeth over Albert Pujols' power outage can rest easy.

 

After going 62 official at-bats without hitting a home run, Pujols ripped his 35th of the season off Mets ace Johan Santana in the eighth inning Tuesday. In his next official at-bat in the 10th (he walked in the ninth), Pujols hit his 36th, a grand slam.

 

Not just any grand slam. He tied Ernie Banks' National League record (set in 1955) with his fifth of the season. With 53 games to go, and is one off the major league record held by the Indians' Travis Hafner (2006) and the Yankees' Don Mattingly (1987).

 

Pujols had gone 0-for-13 before the first of his four hits Tuesday, and he hadn't homered since the first game after the All-Star break.

 

"I had a great first half," he said. "I can't expect myself to go like that all year."

 

But as clutch as Pujols was in enabling the Cardinals to rally from three runs down in the last two innings of regulation against Santana and Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez, Julio Lugo and Skip Schumaker may have been even more important.

 

Both delivered two-strike, run-scoring hits off Rodriguez in the ninth inning.

 

"Lugo had a great at-bat (fouling off several pitches)," Pujols said. "Schu had an unbelievable at-bat."

 

Schumaker's single on a 1-2 pitch tied the game at 7-7 in the ninth. Mark DeRosa drove in the game-winner in the 10th. He contributed nothing with his bat, but with the bases loaded, his left elbow was hit by a pitch from Sean Green to force in the go-ahead run.

 

And now that Matt Holliday has cooled a bit—he's 1-for-10 in his last two games after going 20-for-33 in his first nine with St. Louis—Pujols is back.

 

"He's so good," manager Tony La Russa said of Pujols. "He's really good."

 

Cardinals 12, Mets 7  (10 innings): 1B Albert Pujols had four hits, including a grand slam and a solo homer. SS Julio Lugo, a bargain so far (the Cardinals are paying him only the minimum salary), had three hits, including two doubles. He drove in one run and scored two as the Cardinals rallied from a 7-4 deficit after seven innings. They scored eight runs from the eighth through the 10th.

 

NOTES, QUOTES

 

• The Cardinals bullpen reeled off five scoreless innings Tuesday. RHP Kyle McClellan got the win, but RHP Todd Wellemeyer, a defrocked starter, took a step forward with two scoreless innings.

 

• SS Julio Lugo had two more doubles Tuesday, giving him eight extra-base hits out of 15 hits he's had in the 10 games he's played for the Cardinals since they got him from Boston. He has filled in defensively at shortstop, too, without too much incident with Brendan Ryan nursing a swollen ankle.

 

• LF Matt Holliday was the first Cardinal in at least 55 years to reach base twice or more in each of his first nine games. But he was hitless in four at-bats on Sunday, failing to get the ball out of the infield.

 

By The Numbers:   39—At-bats without an extra-base hit for 1B Albert Pujols before he doubled July 29.

 

Quote To Note:   "He's a relentless hitter, is what he is."—Manager Tony La Russa, on hot-hitting LF Matt Holliday.

 

ROSTER REPORT

 

• SS Brendan Ryan ran in the outfield before Tuesday's game, but wasn't cleared to play, and he won't play Wednesday either. The club hopes another day off Thursday might enable him to be ready for action by Friday in Pittsburgh. However, he still could go on the disabled list, with the move backdated.

 

• 3B Troy Glaus, out all season as he recovers from January right shoulder surgery, has been shut down for another month because of a bulging disk in his lower back. Glaus was pulled off his minor league rehabilitation stint but hasn't responded to two injections. "It's not good," GM John Mozeliak said. Glaus might be back in September when rosters can be expanded, but it's doubtful.

 

• RHP Joel Pineiro, whose ERA had dipped under 3.00, allowed seven runs in five innings Tuesday, his worst game of the season. Pineiro, the leader in fewest walks and homers allowed in the league, didn't give up any in either category, but he didn't strike out anybody either. The Mets made hard contact all night.


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