It just took some daytime ball for
Albert Pujols to become Albert Pujols again. Pujols, who holds the highest
daytime batting average in the National League at .500 (14 for 28), smacked his
seventh homer and two singles Sunday. Pujols had dipped to an uncharacteristic
.275 before the game and had been one for his last 14.
"When he makes outs, he has a good
idea of what he should have done," said manager Tony La Russa. "He had a better
day, plus it was a day game and he could see better."
But this game, as have many in the
first three weeks of the Cardinals' season, was about pitching. Right-hander
Brad Penny, maybe the best one-year, free-agent signing in the off-season,
pitched his fourth consecutive strong game.
Traversing at least seven innings
for the fourth straight time, Penny went 7 2/3 before getting relief from
right-handers Jason Motte and Ryan Franklin as the Cardinals avoided a
three-game sweep. In 14 of the Cardinals' first 18 games, the starters have
allowed two earned runs or fewer, including in all of Penny's four
The former Giant was under
"I didn't throw a pitch as hard as
I could all day," said Penny. "That's the first time in my career that's
happened. They were being aggressive and they didn't let me get deep into
counts. The key for me was mixing it up."
Counting his time with the Giants
last season when he finished up 4-1 after being let go by Boston, Penny, his
shoulder now fully healed after surgery of a couple of years ago, has lasted
seven or more innings in nine of his last 10 starts.
CARDINALS 2, GIANTS 0: The Cardinals
scored only three runs in this series, but they escaped with one win when 1B
Albert Pujols hit a solo homer in the first and C Yadier Molina contributed a
sacrifice fly in the fourth. RHP Brad Penny didn't walk a batter and fanned two
in 7 2/3 innings.
--CF Colby Rasmus, 10 for his last
21, had two hits.
--3B David Freese, who moved into
the lineup when INF Felipe Lopez couldn't play because of a sore arm, had two
hits for his first multi-hit game in nine days.
--RHP Brad Penny, who starred for
the Giants last September, said the size of AT&T Park helped him Sunday. "I love this park.
It's a huge park," said Penny. "Some of the balls hit today would have been
doubles off the Green Monster (in Boston, where Penny struggled earlier last
year). This park allows you to pitch to contact."
--When San Francisco RHP Tim Lincecum beat the Cardinals for the fifth straight time on Friday, it marked the
first time in almost 40 years that a pitcher had beaten the Cardinals in his
first five starts against them. Former Cincinnati LHP Ross Grimsley beat the
Cardinals in his first six starts from 1971-73.
--LF Matt Holiday is just 3-for-22
with men in scoring position, and one of those hits was an infield hit that did
not score a run. He seems more impatient at bat than
--For those who fretted over the
start of RHP Ryan Franklin, the Cardinals' veteran closer posted his sixth save
in six opportunities with a scoreless ninth.
BY THE NUMBERS: 15 -- Home run
differential (24-9) for the Cardinals after three weeks of the
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was
unbelievable. You're talking to a lot of people who seem perfectly normal but
who obviously have done some really bad things." -- 2B Skip Schumaker, after
visiting San Quentin State Prison near San Francisco.
--INF Felipe Lopez (sore right
elbow) didn't start April 21-23 because of some lingering soreness from an
injury he suffered about 10 days before. He pinch-hit April 23, then started
April 24 but didn't play April 25.
--C Jason LaRue (strained right
hamstring) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 12. He might
return in late April.