Scott Rolen, the highest-paid St. Louis Cardinal in franchise history, looks the part right now.
Rolen drove in four runs and Albert Pujols broke a seventh-inning tie with a run-scoring infield hit in a 6-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday at St. Louis.
Rolen is 17 for 41 during a 12-game hitting streak (.415) with four homers and 11 runs batted in and is batting .294 overall, a 51-point jump.
“It’s just the averages,” Manager Tony La Russa said of Rolen, who signed an eight-year, $90 million contract last year. “At the end of the season he’s going to have another big year. He’s just too talented.”
The Cardinals have won only four of their last 12. But they maintained their mastery over the Cubs, who are 4-22 at Busch Stadium the last four seasons and haven’t won consecutive games there since June 20-21, 2001.
Chicago has won seven of 10 but has dropped two of the first three games in the four-game series. The Cubs played the seventh game of a 14-game trip, the longest for the team since 1983.
Fernando Vina drew a four-pitch walk to lead off the seventh against Juan Cruz (1-2) and advanced to third on a sacrifice and groundout. With two out, Pujols hit a slow roller to the third base side for an infield hit. Reliever Antonio Alfonseca’s late throw to first was wild, allowing Pujols to go to third.
Rolen followed with a two-run homer off Alfonseca for a three-run cushion.
Atlanta 6, San Diego 3 -- Vinny Castilla homered for the third time in two games and Russ Ortiz won his fifth consecutive decision to lead the Braves to a four-game sweep at San Diego.
The Braves won for the 27th time in their last 32 games to improve to 31-13, the best record in the majors.
Marcus Giles, who was born and raised in San Diego County, drove in Atlanta’s first three runs and Chipper Jones hit a solo homer.
The Braves outscored the Padres, 39-15, in their first four-game sweep of San Diego since April 4-7, 1994, also in San Diego.
Arizona 8, Pittsburgh 6 -- Rookie Brandon Webb shut down the Pirates for 7 2/3 innings and the Diamondbacks salvaged the final game of their three-game series at Phoenix.
Webb, a 24-year-old right-hander who relies mostly on a nasty sinker, scattered eight hits, struck out six and walked three.
Pittsburgh’s Kenny Lofton was two for four to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 18 games, longest in the National League this season, but was thrown out by home plate umpire Greg Gibson for arguing a called third strike in the seventh.
Colorado 4, Montreal 0 -- Shawn Chacon pitched six scoreless innings, Jay Payton homered and the Rockies beat the Expos at Denver in the 22nd shutout ever at Coors Field.
It was the Rockies’ second shutout this season and 13th overall at Coors Field, which opened in 1995. Chacon was part of the other one this year as well, pitching seven scoreless innings in an 8-0 win over San Diego on April 20.
Philadelphia 3, Houston 1 -- Kevin Millwood threw a six-hitter for his second complete game of the season to lead the Phillies at Houston.
Millwood (6-1) struck out four and walked one. He is 4-0 in his last six starts, including his first career no-hitter on April 27 against San Francisco. He has pitched at least six innings in each of his last six starts and has an earned-run average of 1.64 in those games.
Cincinnati 6, Milwaukee 3 -- Aaron Boone hit his second homer of the game, connecting in the 10th inning to help the Reds win at Milwaukee. Boone has homered three times in two days.