Albert Pujols, who is battling Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones for the National League batting crown, capped an amazing offensive series with a two-run homer in the first inning and finished with a 2-for-2 day. Pujols, who went 8-for-10 in the series, is less than a percentage point behind Jones (.35946 to .35867) in a 6-3 win.
With the help of rookie Brian Barton who got the start, he responded with a career-high three hits, including a two-run double in the second that gave the Cardinals the lead for good. Barton beat out a bunt in the sixth for his third hit and then left for a pinch-runner due to a strained right oblique.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa also got Joe Mather into the lineup on Sunday, and Mather drove in the final two runs. The
The six runs were nice for Braden Looper, who had been just 2-3 over his previous five decisions despite posting a 2.03 ERA in that span. Looper recovered nicely after the shaky second inning, and he got a defensive boost in the sixth when right fielder Ryan Ludwick threw out Jones at the plate as he tried to score from second on a Martin Prado single.
The Cardinals will enjoy a day off before opening a key two-game series against the Brewers on Tuesday at Busch Stadium. St. Louis goes into those games trailing the NL Wild Card leaders by 3 1/2 games.