Cardinals 8, Padres 3
Albert Pujols insists he was not in a slump. The results are
finally supporting him.
Pujols hit his first home run and drove in his first runs in 12
games as the St. Louis Cardinals avoided a sweep with an 8-3 win
over the San Diego Padres on Thursday night.
Brendan Ryan tied a career high with four hits and rookie P.J.
Walters won his first major league game with five shutout innings.
But it was Pujols’ play that had everyone’s attention, except
“I’m just putting a good swing on it,” said Pujols, who
finished with three RBIs. “It’s the same swing I’ve been putting
on it all year. Sooner or later they’re going to fall.”
When advised that some major league scouts following the
Cardinals believe his swing in the three games against the Padres
were a big improvement over the rest of the month, Pujols said:
“That’s why they’re scouting and I’m playing.”
But the numbers don’t lie.
Pujols had not homered nor had an RBI since May 14 at
Cincinnati. His batting average had dipped from .344 on May 1 to
.303 coming into the series, but had three hits in the opener
Tuesday. Pujols’ 11-game streak without an RBI tied his career
high, set during his rookie season of 2001. He had hit just one
home run in 28 games since April 26 before he hammered a solo shot
for his ninth home run.
And Pujols nearly had another line-drive homer.
“It’s always good when Albert’s hitting,” St. Louis manager
Tony La Russa said. “But there’s no doubt that he’s going to
The Cardinals’ offensive outburst helped them avoid their first
three-game sweep against San Diego in nearly 15 years.
Pujols lined a homer off Wade LeBlanc (2-3) in the fifth inning
that hit off the third-story balcony of the brick Western Metal
Supply Co. building in left field.
“It was supposed to be away but it was (in the) middle,”
LeBlanc said. “It was supposed to be the pitch he popped up in the
The three-time MVP nearly did the same thing in the third. But
his hard smash with two runners on hit just foul down the
left-field line. Pujols followed with a grounder that drove in one
“You can’t treat guys differently,” LeBlanc said about facing
Pujols when he is in a slump. “He’s always Albert Pujols.”
Pujols, who came into the series with just three hits in 20
at-bats, added a sacrifice fly in the seventh Thursday as St. Louis
broke out of its offensive doldrums with 15 hits. The Cardinals had
scored just one run in dropping the first two games of the series,
including Wednesday night’s 2-1 loss in 13 innings.
“It’s part of the game,” Pujols said. “We’ve been facing good
pitching (in this series). We had a lot of chances. But this is the
big leagues. It doesn’t matter what kind of chances you have …
Sometimes you hit the ball hard or sometimes you hit a blooper and
it gets you going.”
Ryan, who came in hitting .175, had four hits for the third time
in his career, including a solo homer in the fifth, two batters
ahead of Pujols. Ryan also scored three runs to tie his career
“I almost feel like my life is on the line in every at-bat,”
Ryan said. “I’m treating every at-bat like it’s my last one. As
cliche as that may sound, I don’t know if I’m playing tomorrow. I
just have to do the best I can.”
Walters (1-0) gave up four hits, struck out four and walked two
in his second big league start, his first this season.
Walters pitched out of a pair of two-out, bases-loaded jams
against the NL West-leading Padres. He retired LeBlanc on a fly
ball in the second and struck out Chase Headley in the fifth.
San Diego, which won the first two games of the series 1-0 and
2-1, had its four-game winning streak snapped.
St. Louis has hit only 14 homers in 25 games in May.
LeBlanc, who had been solid in his first six starts this season,
was hit hard for the second straight game.
The left-hander gave up four runs on nine hits over 5 2-3
innings. LeBlanc lasted just three innings in his last outing, a
15-8 loss at Seattle on Friday when he allowed a career-high eight
LeBlanc had allowed two or fewer runs in each of his first six
The Padres were looking to sweep St. Louis in a three-game
series for the first time since August 1995.
NOTES: St. Louis placed RHP Kyle Lohse on the DL with exertional
compartment syndrome in his right forearm. It’s an exercise-induced
neuromuscular condition that causes pain and swelling in legs or
arms and can be difficult to identify. Lohse is scheduled to have
surgery on Friday. … Ryan last had four hits on July 27 against
the Los Angeles Dodgers. … After not allowing a home run in his
first six starts, LeBlanc has given up four in his last two.