"I just wanted to see the ball and hit it to the opposite
field,'' Pujols said after the St. Louis Cardinals beat the New
York Mets 5-4. Pujols did not hit the ball to the opposite way. Instead, he hit
a grand slam over the center-field fence. "If I try to hit a home run, I would probably hit it to the
third baseman for a double play,'' Pujols said. The NL Central leaders won for just the second time in 10 games. Mets starter Shawn Estes said Pujols hit a tough curveball. "He hit my best pitch out of the park,'' Estes said. "He beat
me on it.'' Estes walked the bases loaded with nobody out to set up Pujols'
second slam of the season and third of his career. "I didn't get in a good rhythm in the first inning and that was
the ballgame,'' Estes said. The Mets came back to tie the score, which was no surprise to
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. "I knew the game wasn't over when we got four runs that
early,'' La Russa said. After the Mets came back to tie it, the Cardinals scored the
go-ahead run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Jim Edmonds. Eli Marrero led off with a double against Steve Reed (2-5),
moved to third on Edgar Renteria's sacrifice bunt and scored on
Edmonds' fly. Marrero's ball to left sailed over the head of rookie outfielder
Marco Scutaro, who was charging in on the play. Scutaro, normally
an infielder, had played outfield five times in Triple-A Norfolk
before being called up Saturday. "I just heard he could play out there, he said it would be no
problem,'' Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. Dave Veres (5-7) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.
Jason Isringhausen worked the ninth for his 26th save in 30
chances. Estes, who has lost seven of his last eight starts, was pulled
after three innings. Luther Hackman, making his second start of the year and fifth of
his career, allowed three runs on nine hits in 4 1-3 innings for
the Cardinals. Hackman was pressed into service when Garrett Stephenson
reported stiffness in his shoulder after a rehabilitation start
earlier in the week. La Russa said after the game that Hackman would stay in the
starting rotation for now. "He's in there until we get some of our other pitchers back,
we'll just see how he does.'' The Mets scored four runs in the fifth off Hackman and reliever
Mike Matthews. Timo Perez led off with an infield single and Mo Vaughn and John
Valentin doubled to make it 4-2. Tony Tarasco and Rey Ordonez added
RBI singles to tie it. Plate umpire Larry Vanover threatened to eject both managers in
the sixth after Fernando Vina was hit by a pitch for the second
time in the game. Three Cardinals and one Met were hit by pitches
before the warning.
The Cardinals are 8-15 against the NL East this year. ...
Renteria is hitting .356 since the All-Star break. ... Cardinals 3B
Scott Rolen was hitless in three at-bats, leaving him in a 2-for-32
slump. ... New York pitchers had allowed just one run in the
previous two games. ... Mets star Mike Piazza was 0-for-5 with
three strikeouts and two foulouts. ... Isringhausen is 7-for-7 in
save chances since the All-Star break.