Pujols' three-run blast lifts Cards to first in NL Central

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Jason Marquis was ready to pitch as long as he
needed to go to snap his personal two-game losing streak.

Albert Pujols hit a three-run homer and Marquis pitched seven
innings to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 9-7 win over the
Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

"I kept the pitches down in the zone when I needed to. And I'm
just glad to get back on track," Marquis said.

"I kept it simple. I went after hitters with my sinker, early
and often, and I got good results."

Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds also homered for the second straight
game for the Cardinals, who had lost nine of their last ten. Pujols
went 3-for-5 with four RBI.

"It's part of the game," Pujols said of the Cardinals' recent
problems. "I would say it's better to struggle right now than
later on, because your body, later on, wears out."

St. Louis grabbed a one-game lead over the Reds for first place
in the NL Central with the win. Cleveland beat Cincinnati 6-3

Marquis (10-6) had dropped his previous two starts. He allowed
four runs and nine hits, struck out five and walked one against
Kansas City.

Marquis threw 112 pitches in 95-degree heat and gave a lift to
the Cardinals' beleaguered bullpen, which had lost the last two
games in extra innings.

"That doesn't enter your mind you go out there pitching to
win," Marquis said about preserving the bullpen. "If that means
going five or six innings doing your job, that's what it means. I
tried to go as long as I could and tried to get guys out."

Mike Wood (3-4) lost his fourth straight start. He lasted 4 2/3
innings and gave up eight runs and seven hits. The Royals completed
their road trip with a 3-3 record and have won seven of their last

"I just didn't have it, I pitched bad," said Wood, who struck
out four and walked four. "I left the ball up. I didn't give us a
chance in the third inning."

The Cardinals scored six runs in the third with the help of a
hit batter and three walks. With one out, David Eckstein, who had
been 0-for-9, singled and John Rodriguez walked. Pujols then hit a
1-1 pitch for his 27th homer to make it 3-1.

Wood hit Rolen with a pitch and walked Edmonds and Scott Spiezio
ahead of Yadier Molina's two-run single. One batter later, Marquis
singled in Spiezio.

Rolen and Edmonds hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth to
make it 8-1.

After allowing one run and two hits in the first inning, Marquis
scattered four hits over the next five innings with no walks and
three strikeouts.

The Royals scored three runs in the eighth. Tony Graffanino
singled in a run and pinch-hitter Reggie Sanders drove in two with
a base hit.

Pujols singled in a run in the eighth.

Game notes
David DeJesus went 3-for-5 for Kansas City. He has a
nine-game hitting streak (21-for-42, .500). ... Rolen's home run,
measured at 446 feet, was the longest by a Cardinal in the new
ballpark. Cleveland's Todd Hollandsworth also hit a home run this
season measured at 446 feet. ... Pujols tied Ray Lankford for third
place on the Cardinals' career home run list with 228.