Albert Pujols remains four points behind Chipper Jones for the national league batting title as Pujols did everything he could with his team in the Wild Card hunt, but one lazy play in the ninth by one of Pujols’ teammates cost the Cards a chance to win.

First, let’s talk about Pujols.  A lot of attention has been paid to the breakout year that Ryan Ludwick has had and deservedly so, but I think so many fans are used to seeing Albert put up numbers like this on a yearly basis that they may overlook his accomplishments.

He had another three hits yesterday, his batting average is .356 and he drove in three of the teams runs with a two run double and a solo home run in the fifth to give the Cardinals a 3-1 lead.  The Braves tied the game in the sixth off Kyle Lohse who wanted this game bad. He left after letting the Braves back in the game.

After the Braves took the lead in the eighth with two runs, the Cardinals cut the lead to 5-4.  With a rain delay in the ninth inning, things went south for St. Louis after that.

Ryan Franklin gave up a single to Brian McCann after getting two quick outs.  Russ Springer was brought in and he walked Mark Kotsay.  Martin Prado, then hit a one hop smash to second basemen Felipe Lopez for what should have been the third out, but Lopez took his time, double pumped and by the time he threw to Pujols, the hustling Prado tied the throw.  Then in a classic, 3-2 bases loaded show down, Kelly Johnson fouled off eight Springer fast balls.  On the 14 th pitch of the at-bat, Springer missed and walked a run in.  Jeff Franceour then singled in two runs and the game was out of reach.

At first what might look as laziness on Lopez’ part, is really not his fault.  The game was on Fox, and they showed a great angle and Lopez had to wait to throw because Pujols was playing far back behind the base.  It’s a timing throw and perhaps Lopez wasn’t quite used to throwing to Pujols in that situation having only been with the team a couple of weeks.

With the loss, the Cardinals slide back to 8 GB Chicago and now 3.5 behind Milwaukee in the Wild Card race.