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Drew homers for second straight game

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- J.D. Drew enjoyed his return to Busch Stadium,
but his happy homecoming could have been better.

Drew homered against his former team for the second straight
day, helping the Atlanta Braves beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-5 on
Thursday and avoid a three-game sweep.

Chipper Jones had three hits and Drew finished 4-for-12 in the
series with a two-run homer in each of the last two games.

"I had a good time," Drew said. "It's different competing
against them, that's for sure. One of my best friends on the team
was behind the plate and he's wanting to get me out more than
anybody on the field."

Marcus Giles, Johnny Estrada and starter John Thomson each drove
in a run for the Braves, who won for only the second time in eight
games. Atlanta scored just 15 runs in the previous seven.

"We had a lot of hitting, and we lined out a lot," Braves
manager Bobby Cox said. "So it looks like we're breaking out
here."

John Smoltz, pitching for the first time in five days, got four
outs for his fifth save in six chances. Smoltz had offseason elbow
surgery and this was the first time he worked more than an inning
this season.

"Hopefully we can build on this," Smoltz said. "We haven't
built on anything yet,"

Reggie Sanders hit a two-run homer and Albert Pujols drove in
two runs and had his first three-hit game of the season for the
Cardinals, whose three-game winning streak ended.

Sanders broke out of a 3-for-31 slump and Pujols, the NL batting
champion last year with a .359 average, raised his average 14
points to .281.

"I didn't do anything to help our team win," Pujols said. "I
got three hits, but it doesn't matter because we got the loss."

Antonio Alfonseca (4-0) got the last two outs in the fifth after
Thomson struggled, giving up four runs and eight hits in 4 1-3
innings.

"I just want to kick myself," Thomson said. "Personally, I
think I need to win that game."

Jeff Suppan (3-4) lasted 3 1-3 innings, the second-shortest
outing by the Cardinals starter of the season. He allowed four runs
and eight hits and threw 88 pitches.

"I was basically behind in the count all day," Suppan said.
"It was one of those things, just one of those days."

Second baseman Tony Womack's throwing error on a double-play
relay gave the Braves a run in the second, but the Cardinals came
back in the bottom half on Sanders' ninth homer for a 2-1 lead.

Drew's two-run shot in the third put the Braves back in front.

Atlanta got another run in the fourth on Thomson's squeeze bunt,
but the Cardinals escaped further trouble with an inning-ending
double play.

Third baseman Scott Rolen threw to first to get Thomson, and
retreated to third just in time to catch a relay and tag out Jesse
Garcia.

Pujols' two-run single in the fifth chased Thomson and narrowed
the gap to 5-4.

In the sixth, Sanders dropped Garcia's drive to right near the
warning track for a three-base error. Garcia then scored on Giles'
one-out single.

Pujols doubled off the center-field wall and later scored on
Rolen's sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Game notes
Cardinals SS Edgar Renteria left after seven innings as a
precaution due to lower back tightness. ... Estrada had a tough day
behind the plate. He stepped on his foot and tumbled to the ground
attempting to throw out Pujols stealing in the first, got nailed in
the mask on a foul ball in the third, took a foul ball off his
right foot in the fourth, had another foul tip off his thigh in the
eighth and a foul ball off his left arm in the ninth. ... Braves SS
Rafael Furcal missed his 11th straight start with a jammed right
ring finger. He lined out as a pinch-hitter in the sixth. ...
Cardinals relievers had worked 16 1-3 scoreless innings before
Estrada's RBI double off Kiko Calero in the fifth. The double came
two pitches after the game resumed following a 19-minute rain
delay. ... Cardinals reliever Julian Tavarez had his smudged hat
checked for the second time this season in the eighth, although Cox
denied he had anything to do with it. The Phillies did it earlier
this season, leading to the Cardinals having Pat Burrell's bat
checked in retaliation. Tavarez pitched wearing a new cap on
Thursday.