Albert Pujols is finishing June with a flourish. After having just six extra-base hits in the month until Sunday, Pujols has had three homers and a double in the last three games, including a pair of two-run homers Tuesday night, when he drove in five runs.
The 37th multi-homer game of his career tied him with Hall of Famer Stan Musial for the Cardinals record.
"You know what I think about Stan," Pujols said. "To be mentioned in the same category as Stan Musial is pretty special."
Tony La Russa, who has managed Pujols for 10 years, said, "I think Albert is the best hitter I've seen from the first day of the month to the last day of the month. Sometimes he gets pitches to hit. Sometimes he doesn't. Sometimes his stroke can get a little funky because it's not automatic.
"But that would be a quote I'd go down with. He's the best I've ever seen from the first day of the month to the last day of the month."
All of Pujols' RBI Tuesday involved Felipe Lopez, who will be the Cardinals' third baseman on a full-time basis for a couple of weeks now that David Freese has gone on the disabled list with a right ankle injury.
Lopez had four singles and was robbed of a fifth. He scored three runs while hitting ahead of Pujols.
"It's a great example of his value," La Russa said. "This guy is really a weapon."
With Adam Wainwright
holding a big lead, and with a start against
CARDINALS 8, DIAMONDBACKS 0: The Cardinals moved back into first place in the National League Central, a half-game ahead of Cincinnati, as 1B Albert Pujols drove in a season-high five runs. The Cardinals will try for an eighth time Wednesday to sweep a three-game series in which they have won the first two games.
NOTES AND QUOTES
3B Felipe Lopez's season high was two hits, done 11 times, before he collected four singles Tuesday. Third base coach Jose Oquendo said, "Felipe has the tools to be a superstar," but Oquendo said Lopez must maintain his concentration defensively to reach a higher level. Lopez will be the Cardinals' regular third baseman during David Freese's stint on the disabled list.
3B David Freese was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a bone bruise on his right ankle, and the Cardinals decided to go with 13 pitchers for the rest of the homestand. RHP Fernando Salas was recalled from Class AAA Memphis, and he worked two scoreless innings Tuesday, giving him 6 1/3 scoreless innings in five outings. Salas has been brought up three times this season. "He's shown three pitches," manager Tony La Russa said. "He's made a good impression."
The Cardinals are the National League's best team when they score first, going 30-6. They have won 15 series this season, 11 at home.
RHP Chris Carpenter's
availability won't be known until Wednesday after his right forearm took on a
nasty bruise when he was hit by a liner struck by
By the Numbers:
4 - Number of interleague series won by the Cardinals this year out of the five they played.
Quote to Note:
"What more can he do?"
- Manager Tony La Russa after RHP Blake Hawksworth, a spot starter, worked five innings, giving up just two hits and one earned run, in beating Kansas City. It was the second big-league start for Hawksworth, who had been pulled from the bullpen.
RF Ryan Ludwick (strained left calf) left the June 22 game, and he didn't play June 23-24. He appeared as the designated hitter June 25, then sat out June 26-29. He is day-to-day.
RHP Chris Carpenter (bruised right forearm) was hit by a line drive June 28. His availability for his scheduled July 3 start might be known June 30.
3B David Freese (bone bruise on right ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 28.
RHP Kyle Lohse (right forearm strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 23, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 5. He had surgery May 28 to alleviate muscle discomfort. He played catch for the first time since the surgery June 28.
RHP Brad Penny (strained upper back) went on the 15-day disabled list May 22. He threw in the bullpen for 20 minutes June 28 but is unlikely to return before the All-Star break.