video thumbnail

STL@CHC: Pujols puts on a hitting display at Wrigley

CHICAGO -- The Cardinals made certain they weren't shut out two games in a row.

On the heels of a three-run loss to the Cubs on Saturday, the Cardinals rebounded with a 6-2 victory Sunday night at Wrigley Field. St. Louis belted four home runs, scoring five of its runs via the long ball.

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina went 2-for-4 with two homers and three RBIs as he continued his career year at the plate. It was Molina's first multi-homer game since Aug. 16, 2007, in Milwaukee.

"He's the guy that you want at the plate with the game on the line," said Albert Pujols, who broke a two-game slump by going 4-for-5 with a solo homer -- his 31st of the season.

Before this season, Pujols was 0-for-12 against Cubs starter Rodrigo Lopez. In 2011, Pujols has tagged Lopez for three homers.

"What's the difference? I don't know. He's probably figured me out," Lopez said. "He's Pujols and he's one of the best hitters in the game, and he made the adjustment. He's kind of figured me out. I need to make an adjustment if I face him again."

Jon Jay and Molina cleared the fence on consecutive pitches to lead off the second inning, putting the Cardinals up by a pair. The blast was Jay's first since July 6, and Molina's second of the series.

The two were at it again in the sixth inning after Jay walked with one out. Molina smacked another home run -- his 11th of the season, two more than his career-high -- to put the Cardinals ahead, 5-2.

"He is a real clutch hitter," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. "He's got a real good stroke that allows him to use the whole field, so it never surprises me when he does something good offensively."

Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook tossed seven innings of two-run ball, giving up seven hits with two walks and three strikeouts. With the win, the Cardinals finished their road trip with a 2-4 mark.

St. Louis kept pace with both Milwaukee and Atlanta in the National League Central and Wild Card races, respectively.

"[Westbrook] knew what was at stake here," La Russa said. "So he gave us life. He went out there and did exactly what he knew we needed."

The Cubs got on the board in the third inning when Westbrook gave up a leadoff single to Geovany Soto and Starlin Castro walked. Aramis Ramirez followed with a two-out RBI single that cut the Cardinals' lead in half.

Castro and Darwin Barney singled to lead off the fifth, and Ramirez hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score the Cubs' second run of the game.

The Cardinals' starters for the series -- Westbrook, Jaime Garcia and Edwin Jackson -- combined to throw three quality starts, tossing a total of 20 1/3 innings, and gave up just eight earned runs for a 3.54 ERA.

"Our pitching has been outstanding all year," Pujols said. "Our offense, sometimes we can't put enough runs on the board. I think our pitching has been outstanding this whole road trip."

The Cardinals now return home for a seven-game homestand against the Dodgers and Pirates. St. Louis sits 8 1/2 games behind Milwaukee for first place in the National League Central and is equally behind Atlanta in the Wild Card race with 35 games to play.

"What [the win] means is we survived," La Russa said. "If you survive, that means you're still alive. We're still alive. We just have to string together more wins than what we did."

MLB.com Comments