Albert Pujols made it sound so simple. All he had to do to snap out of his brief slump was make sure he had good swings.
Facing the New York Mets' pitching may have helped, too. Whatever the reason, Pujols put that mini-funk behind him in style Tuesday night.
Pujols hit a grand slam in the 10th inning for his second homer of the game and the Cardinals rallied for a 12-7 victory over the sliding New York Mets.
"I'm human. I'm not a machine," said Pujols, disputing a popular SportsCenter commercial on ESPN. "I work hard. I'm ready every day. I didn't put my head down. I don't change myself and I don't change my approach."
Pujols finished with four hits and five RBIs for the Cardinals, ending an 0 for 13 skid with his ninth multihomer game of the season. Ryan Ludwick also went deep and drove in two runs for St. Louis.
The Cardinals scored eight times in the last three innings to hand New York its fifth loss in six games. With two out and the bases loaded in the 10th, Sean Green replaced Pedro Feliciano (4-4) and hit Mark DeRosa on the left elbow with his first pitch to give St. Louis an 8-7 lead.
"That's not how I had it planned out but (I've) just been erratic with my location," said Green, whose wild pitch plated the deciding run in New York's 3-2 loss to Arizona on Friday night, "and it's cost us the last couple outings."
With the Citi Field crowd still jeering Green, Pujols hit an 0-2 pitch into the seats in left to tie Ernie Banks' NL record of five slams in a season set in 1955. The All-Star slugger is 7 for 9 with 24 RBIs with the bases loaded this year and leads the majors with 36 homers. He is one slam behind the major league record for a season held by Travis Hafner and Don Mattingly.
Kyle McClellan (3-2) pitched a scoreless 10th for St. Louis, which managed to get the win despite a shaky outing by Joel Pineiro.
Johan Santana hit a two-run double and pitched a season-high eight innings for New York, which fell nine games behind NL wild card-leading Colorado and lost another player to an injury. Second baseman Luis Castillo slipped trying to avoid a glove on the dugout steps, spraining his left ankle after he grounded out leading off the seventh. X-rays were negative.
"I don't really know what else we have to go through, to be honest to you guys," Santana said. "We've had to go through everything this season and we're trying to battle through it. We're trying to pick each other up and trying to step it up. But reality is that we've got to have everybody together and healthy."
St. Louis scored two runs in the ninth to tie it at 7 and hand Francisco Rodriguez his fourth blown save in 28 opportunities this season. Rick Ankiel and Julio Lugo opened the inning with consecutive doubles, and Skip Schumaker had an RBI single with one out.
"It was really embarrassing out there," Rodriguez said. "I was unable to make pitches when I needed to."
Dodgers 17, Brewers 4
At Los Angeles, Manny Ramirez ended his 10-game RBI drought with a homer and a two-run double, and Matt Kemp had a homer among his four hits while driving in five runs in Los Angeles' victory over Milwaukee.
Kemp had two hits and two RBIs during the seven-run sixth inning, while Russell Martin reached base five times and had three RBIs in the Dodgers' highest-scoring home game in 30 years. With a season-high in runs on 18 hits, Los Angeles improved the majors' best record to 66-41.
The Dodgers hadn't scored 17 runs at Dodger Stadium since May 25, 1979, against Cincinnati.
Hiroki Kuroda (4-5) earned his first win since July 3.
Ramirez homered off Yovani Gallardo (10-8) in the fifth. He hadn't driven in a run since his pinch-hit grand slam July 22.
Diamondbacks 6, Pirates 0
At Pittsburgh, Arizona's Yusmeiro Petit took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and combined with Leonel Rosales on a one-hitter.
Petit (2-5), who snapped a seven-game losing streak with his first victory in more than 11 months in his most recent start, walked three and struck out four in eight innings. The right-hander threw a season-high 107 pitches – 73 for strikes – in going longer than seven innings for the first time in his career.
Ronny Cedeno lined a single to left after Ramon Vazquez led off the eighth with a walk, ending the quest for what would have been the second no-hitter in Diamondbacks history.
Rockies 8, Phillies 3
At Philadelphia, Garrett Atkins homered and had a season-high four RBIs and Jason Hammel pitched into the seventh inning as Colorado won its fifth straight.
Atkins hit a two-out, two-run homer off Jamie Moyer (10-8) in the second inning, then added a two-run double in the sixth after the Phillies cut the lead to 4-2 on a home run by Jimmy Rollins.
Colorado added two runs in the inning to put the game out of reach. The Rockies finished with 11 hits as every starter except second baseman Clint Barmes had at least one.
Hammel (6-6) gave up three runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings.
Cubs 6, Reds 3
At Cincinnati, Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny turned his first appearance for Chicago into his best of the season, allowing three hits and driving in a run.
The Cubs got Gorzelanny (4-1) and reliever John Grabow from Pittsburgh in a five-player deal Thursday. He went 7 1-3 innings, giving up one run. Wladimir Balentien hit a two-run homer off Angel Guzman in the ninth.
Gorzelanny had an RBI single off Johnny Cueto (8-9), setting the Reds on course for their 14th loss in 15 games. Cincinnati has dropped eight straight – all at home – for its longest losing streak in four years.
Nationals 6, Marlins 4
At Washington, Adam Dunn capped Washington's six-run eighth-inning rally with a two-run homer and the Nationals ended a 10-game losing streak against Florida.
Dunn struck out in his first three at-bats before lining a 3-2 pitch from Dan Meyer over the left-field fence, breaking a 4-4 tie. The Nationals were trailing 4-0 heading into the eighth and hadn't had a base runner since the first inning as Florida starter Josh Johnson retired 20 consecutive batters.
But the Nationals got four straight hits to start the inning. Pinch-hitter Ronnie Belliard's two-run double was the final one, and that ended Johnson's night.
Nyjer Morgan followed with an RBI groundout off Renyel Pinto before Cristian Guzman tied the game with a single to right off Kiko Calero (2-1).
Meyer came on and got the second out before Dunn belted his 28th homer.
Mike MacDougal earned his ninth save.
Giants 8, Astros 1
At Houston, Jonathan Sanchez snapped a nine-game road losing streak, striking out eight in seven shutout innings for San Francisco.
Sanchez (5-9), who pitched a no-hitter against San Diego on July 10, held Houston to four hits, all singles. The 26-year-old left-hander was 0-8 with a 6.33 ERA in nine road starts this season and hadn't won away from home since Sept. 12, 2008, in San Diego.
Braves 9, Padres 2
At San Diego, Javier Vazquez (9-7) pitched seven strong innings and Martin Prado homered and drove in three runs to lead Atlanta.
Matt Diaz hit a two-run homer and Prado had two RBIs in a four-run sixth inning as the Braves went ahead 7-2. Atlanta tied its season high with 17 hits and scored as many runs as it had in its last four games combined.