Pujols bails out Isringhausen in ninth

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Albert Pujols prevented Jason Isringhausen's
latest failure from hurting the St. Louis Cardinals.

Pujols hit a game-winning single in the ninth inning after
Isringhausen allowed a tying home run to Jose Hernandez in the top
half, giving the Cardinals a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh
Pirates on Wednesday and a three-game sweep.

Pujols, who leads the majors with 29 RBI, has the game-winning
RBI in four of the Cardinals' last five victories.

"Izzy, I know he wanted to get that save right there, and he
made a mistake," Pujols said. "But we came out with a win, and
everybody will forget about what happened."

St. Louis led 3-2 with two outs in the ninth when Hernandez hit
his first homer of the season. Isringhausen (1-2) has allowed three
homers in eight innings this year, two resulting in losses, and has
a 6.75 ERA.

"Just one bad pitch I wish I could get back, but I can't,"
Isringhausen said. "It's just frustrating more than anything, but
we'll be back out there."

The Hernandez homer denied Mark Mulder his 100th career victory.
Then, in the bottom half, David Eckstein and Hector Luna hit
consecutive singles off Roberto Hernandez (0-1), and Pujols lined a
2-2 pitch down the third-base line.

Pujols was down 0-2 earlier in the count.

"I know if I get two strikes, I can still take the same
approach and get a base hit," Pujols said. "I'm really
comfortable with two strikes, it doesn't bother me at all."

Hernandez thought he had Pujols struck out on an 0-2 pitch.

"If he doesn't swing 0-2, it's not a strike," Hernandez said.
"He's such a great hitter and such a great competitor, anyway, and
now you consider him like Barry Bonds, when he was going good."

Pujols didn't want to talk about the location of the 0-2 pitch.

"If I was an umpire I would tell you so," Pujols said. "Maybe
the pitch was good, but he didn't call it, so I don't have anything
to say about that."

Luna, who went 2-for-5 and raised his average to .432, had his
fourth straight multihit game for the Cardinals, who have won six
of seven overall. They're 29-10 against the Pirates since 2004 and
swept them for the first time since May 23-25 last year.

They won the finale without Scott Rolen, sidelined for the
second straight day by bronchitis, and Jim Edmonds, who got a day
off against a left-handed pitcher.

Juan Encarnacion, batting cleanup for the first time this
season, hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth off Zach Duke to break a
2-2 tie. Encarnacion has five RBI the last two games after
totaling one in the first 19.

Craig Wilson hit a two-run homer in the fourth for the Pirates,
who have a season-worst seven-game losing streak. They've been
outscored 34-12 during the slump, have lost 12 of 13 on the road
and are an NL-worst 5-18.

"We've had a few like this," manager Jim Tracy said. "The
record may suggest differently, but when you look at the games
we've played, we've had our fair share of games like this."

Mulder allowed two runs and five hits in 7 2-3 innings.

Scott Spiezio, starting for the second straight game, was
2-for-4 with a run-scoring single in the first. Miles, playing
second base for the first time since a two-error game on Sunday,
had an RBI single in the second for a 2-0 lead.

Pittsburgh had two runners on before Wilson grounded into an
inning-ending double play in the first. He didn't miss his next
chance, hitting his seventh homer to tie it in the fourth.

Duke gave up three runs, eight hits and five walks -- three
intentional -- in six innings. Last season, Duke stopped a pair of
five-game losing streaks, plus a three-game skid.

Game notes
Jack Wilson was 0-for-2 with a walk and a sacrifice, ending
an eight-game hitting streak. ... Paid attendance of 38,728 gave
the Cardinals their 12th sellout in 12 games at the new Busch
Stadium. ... The Cardinals have won six of seven series this season
-- the exception was a Cubs' sweep in early April. This is their
second sweep of the season; they also took three straight at
Philadelphia to open the season.