PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Albert Pujols turned down a day off and then
joined some elite company.
Pujols hit his 40th home run and reached 100 RBI for the fourth
consecutive season, and the St. Louis Cardinals completed a
three-game sweep of the Pirates with a 4-0 victory Sunday.Pujols, who also hit his first triple of the season, became the
fourth player to start his major league career with four straight
seasons with at least 100 RBI. He joined Hall of Famers Al
Simmons, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams as the only players to
accomplish the feat."It's awesome," Pujols said. "It's tough to get 100 at this
level, but I'm here to do the best I can to win. I don't care who
they try to compare me to. I just want to be myself and try to get
better every day. It's about winning. That's why I'm here. I want
to be a winner and hopefully we'll get that opportunity this
year."Pujols was refreshed after being given Saturday off. It was just
the sixth game he's missed."I felt like yesterday was a good time to do it," he said.
"My body was telling me I was so tired."Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he considered resting
Pujols on Sunday, too."I told him no because I felt strong enough to go out and
play," Pujols said. "We were facing a tough lefty and I needed to
go out there and try to help us to win."Jason Marquis (13-4) held the Pirates to four hits in 7 1-3
shutout innings to win his 10th straight decision. He hasn't lost
since the Pirates beat him 11-8 on May 26. He walked four and hit a
batter as the Cardinals won their seventh straight game against the
Pirates."I was more than pleased," La Russa said. "It was a tough
matchup against (Oliver) Perez, a hot day, the end of a road trip.
It was an outstanding performance."Marquis said the heat and humidity didn't bother him."I felt great," he said. "I'm feeling real good physically
and my mechanics have been good. Things have been going pretty well
and my team has a lot to do with that. We've been playing real good
baseball. I'm just glad to be part of it."Ray King got one out in the eighth, and Julian Tavarez got four
outs for his fourth save in St. Louis' 10th shutout.Perez (9-7) had won three consecutive decisions and six of
eight, but gave up three runs on five hits in six innings."He had a couple of mistake pitches, but he certainly pitched
well enough to win a game," manager Lloyd McClendon said.The Pirates have lost nine of their last 12 -- with seven of the
losses to St. Louis. They were 1-7 in consecutive weekend series
against the Cardinals."We have a long way to go to get to their level," Pirates
outfielder Rob Mackowiak said.Pujols' triple keyed a two-run third inning against Perez that
gave St. Louis a 2-0 lead. With one out, Roger Cedeno walked and
scored when Pujols' drive rolled to the notch in left-center field,
the deepest part of PNC Park. Pujols, who reached third standing,
scored when Scott Rolen blooped a single just beyond shortstop Jack
Wilson's reach."He's going about it the right way," La Russa said. "He just
tries to win the game and the numbers just happen."The Cardinals added a run in the sixth. Rolen led off with a
walk and scored two outs later when Mike Matheny's sinking liner
fell for a double, then rolled away from left fielder Jason Bay.
Pujols hit Brian Meadows' first pitch of the eighth over the
center-field wall to make it 4-0.The Cardinals are 18-6 on the road since the All-Star break."There's a terrific attitude on this team," La Russa said.
"The guys really push each other. This club has played at a really
high level for a long time and that's hard to do. You have to dig
deep and they do, every day."
Marquis picked Mackowiak off second base to help escape a
jam in the sixth. The Pirates had runners at first and second with
one out at the time. ... La Russa rested outfielders Jim Edmonds
and Larry Walker, along with second baseman Tony Womack. ... 3B Ty
Wigginton, acquired by the Pirates from the Mets in the Kris Benson
trade, has started to hear some boos. He struck out twice and
grounded into a double play, and has one hit in his last 18
at-bats. ... Pirates outfielder Craig Wilson was hit by a pitch for
a league-leading 26th time.