Hitchcock allows three hits in Cardinals debut

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Albert Pujols picked up on Sunday where Jim
Edmonds left off the night before.

Pujols homered twice and tied a career high with five RBI, and
Sterling Hitchcock threw six shutout innings in the St. Louis
Cardinals' 5-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.

"It went from the Edmonds show to the Pujols show," Reds
manager Dave Miley said.

Edmonds didn't start Sunday after driving in four runs and
saving two with a circus catch on Saturday.

Pujols has 37 homers this season, and 108 for his career to move
past Joe DiMaggio for third place on the list for most homers in a
player's first three years.

"I'm not thinking about that now," Pujols said. "After the
season's over, I'll look back at it, but September's going to be a
tough month. I need to finish strong. We need to finish strong."

Hitchcock (2-0) allowed three hits, walked one and struck out
four in his second appearance and first start for the Cardinals,
who won for the fourth time in five games.

"Hitchcock kept us off balance," Miley said. "We had a couple
of opportunities, but we couldn't get the two-out hit."

With the win, the Cardinals guaranteed that they would at least
share first place with Houston in the NL Central heading into a
five-game series with the third-place Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field
starting Monday.

Hitchcock, making his second start of the season and first since
being traded from the New York Yankees on August 22, retired the
first 10 batters he faced before Ray Olmedo singled to left with
one out in the fourth.

"He threw six great innings for us, and we're not struggling
with the bullpen like we were earlier in the year," Pujols said.
"All our starters have to do now is throw six good innings."

Cal Eldred, Steve Kline and Russ Springer each pitched one
inning of scoreless relief to complete the shutout.

The Reds (59-77) have lost seven of their last eight, including
six of seven on the homestand.

Danny Serafini (0-2), who made his second start since signing
with Cincinnati out of the Mexican League, allowed two runs, four
hits and three walks while striking out three Cardinals in six

Miguel Cairo led off the sixth with a single to center. Pujols
followed with his 36th homer -- the first ball to bounce off the
roof of the batter's eye building in center field and reach the
concourse behind it at Great American Ball Park. The homer traveled
an estimated 477 feet.

"As long as they go out, I'll take it," Pujols said. "It
doesn't matter to me how far they go."

Pujols followed back-to-back singles by Bo Hart and Cairo with a
line drive into the Reds' bullpen in left-center field off of Danny
Graves in the eighth. He tied his career high for homers, set in
2001 -- when he won the NL Rookie of the Year award.

"That pitch was 2 feet off the ground," Miley said. "Most
hitters who swing at the pitch would probably ground into a double

Serafini, who left the team for four days with permission to
attend to family matters after starting last Tuesday, gave up three
walks in the first two innings but didn't allow a hit until Cairo's
broken-bat double down the right-field line with two outs in the

"I've got to quit giving up home runs," Serafini said. "My
last game, I gave up two. This time, I gave up one big one."

Game notes
The win was the second straight for St. Louis at Great
American Ball Park after five consecutive losses. ... St. Louis
started all right-handers against the left-handed Serafini. ...
Edmonds struck out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh and stayed in.
... Serafini threw 30 pitches in the first, including a combined
eight with two strikes that were fouled off by Pujols and Rolen,
and 25 in the second. ... The Cardinals earned their fourth
consecutive series win since being swept in a three-game series at
Philadelphia on Aug. 15-17. ... St. Louis moved a season-high eight
games over .500 in its fourth try.