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Pujols Just Grand for Cardinals

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From Associated Press

Albert Pujols had done just about everything possible as a rookie, except win a game with a grand slam. He took care of that Friday night.

Pujols hit his first grand slam--a go-ahead shot in the ninth that also gave him the National League record for extra-base hits by a rookie--and drove in five runs for the second time this week as visiting St. Louis won for the eighth time in a row, defeating Pittsburgh, 9-5.

The Cardinals squandered leads of 4-0 and 5-4, but won it on Pujols’ 36th home run. He also doubled in a run in the first and has 83 extra-base hits, one more than Johnny Frederick’s total for Brooklyn in 1929. Hal Trosky of Cleveland set the major league record with 89 in 1934.

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“He’s got 125 RBIs, and 100 of them have been just like today,” Manager Tony La Russa said. “He’s been incredible. I’m running out of ways to describe him.

Just as the Pirates’ Omar Olivares is running out of ways to get him out. Pujols’ shot came off Olivares (6-9) and followed a pair of singles and a walk. Pujols is four for five with two homers against Olivares this season--four for four in Pittsburgh, with two homers in his last three at-bats against him there.

“I wasn’t thinking grand slam, the worst thing I could have done there was try to hit a long ball,” Pujols said. “I just wanted to hit a sacrifice fly ... keep the ball off the ground and not hit into a double play.”

Pujols also had five RBIs Tuesday in a 9-4 victory over Milwaukee, and has 14 RBIs in the five games since the Cardinals resumed play Monday after the majors’ weeklong break.

Apparently, he likes hitting with runners in scoring position.

“Every time,” he said. “When somebody is on second base, I think I need to drive him in. The last time up, I knew I needed to drive the run in to win the game.”

“He hit a good pitch, too, it was down and out,” Pirate Manager Lloyd McClendon said. “But he hit it out, so I guess it was a mistake pitch.”

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Luther Hackman (1-2) pitched a scoreless eighth for his second career victory as St. Louis won for the 11th time in 12 games and dealt Pittsburgh its sixth consecutive loss.

If the Cardinals reach the playoffs--they lead the NL wild-card race--they will have the last-place Pirates to thank. They are 10-2 against them, 5-0 in Pittsburgh, and have won 17 of their last 20 against the Pirates.

The Cardinals had to work for this one, though, after outscoring the Pirates, 32-6, in their first four games at PNC Park. They opened a 4-0 lead with the help of a deficient Pittsburgh defense as Darryl Kile, who hadn’t yielded the Pirates a run in 21 innings this season, took a shutout into the sixth.

But the Pirates tied it before making the first out of the inning as consecutive singles by Chad Hermansen, Jason Kendall and Jack Wilson preceded Brian Giles’ three-run homer into the right-field seats, his 35th.

Giles also hit 35 homers last season and has 109 homers in his first three Pirate seasons.

“My heart goes out to my kids,” McClendon said. “They give me everything they’ve got every day. They battled back, and they had it in their hands.”

Philadelphia 1, Florida 0--Brian Hunter’s ninth-inning pinch single off Vladimir Nunez (4-5) with the bases loaded scored Marlon Anderson at Philadelphia as the Phillies won for the sixth time in seven games and moved within a half-game of Atlanta in the NL East.

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Jose Mesa (2-3) pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth to get the victory, retiring Alex Gonzalez on a shallow fly ball to keep the game scoreless.

Anderson led off the inning with a single off Vladimir Nunez (4-5) and went to third on Pat Burrell’s single. Travis Lee was intentionally walked to load the bases before Nunez retired Felipe Crespo on a popup.

Hunter then bounced a single up the middle past a diving Alex Gonzalez at shortstop to win it.

Chicago 12, Houston 4--Fred McGriff drove in a season-high five runs with a double and home run, and Sammy Sosa hit his 55th homer, powering the Cubs over the Astros at Houston.

Houston, which had won four consecutive, saw its NL Central lead shrink to 31/2 games over second-place St. Louis. The Cubs, who broke open the game with a five-run seventh inning, remained two games behind the Cardinals in the wild-card race.

Sosa’s 29th solo homer put the Cubs ahead, 1-0, in the first. McGriff went three for five with a two-run double in the seventh off Nelson Cruz and a three-run homer in the eighth off Wilfredo Rodriguez, who made his major league debut.

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Cincinnati 5, Milwaukee 2--Ken Griffey Jr. hit a three-run homer off Mac Suzuki (3-7) in the sixth inning to break a 2-2 tie at Milwaukee.

Griffey’s homer came just after second baseman Mark Loretta collided with Wilton Guerrero. Both players lay motionless just a few feet apart. Guerrero has a mild concussion and is day to day. Loretta left for precautionary reasons.

Milwaukee lost its sixth consecutive and struck out 10 times, setting a major league season record with 1,272, four more than the 1996 Detroit Tigers.

Lance Davis (7-3) gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings, and Danny Graves pitched the ninth for his 27th save.

Colorado 11, Montreal 9--Todd Helton singled in the go-ahead run against Guillermo Mota (1-3) in the 11th inning at Montreal for his 500th career run batted in. Kane Davis (2-4) pitched the last two innings for the victory after Colorado wasted leads of 5-1, 6-5 and 9-8.

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