Series: Game 2 of 3

St. Louis leads 2-0 (as of 5/1)

Game 1: Thursday, April 30
St. Louis9Final
Game 2: Friday, May 1
St. Louis6Final
Game 3: Saturday, May 2
St. Louis1Final
Game 4: Sunday, May 3
St. LouisPostponed

Cardinals 6

(17-7, 7-4 away)

Nationals 2

(5-17, 3-7 home)

    7:05 PM ET, May 1, 2009

    Nationals Park, Washington, D.C. 

    123456789 R H E
    STL 100202100 6 10 0
    WAS 000000200 2 8 0

    W: T. Wellemeyer (2-2)

    L: J. Zimmermann (2-1)

    Cardinals put away Nationals to mark best start since 1944 at 17-7

    Associated Press

    WASHINGTON -- Ryan Ludwick can't find an obvious flaw in the St. Louis Cardinals lineup -- or in their pitching staff.

    The potent combination has the team off to its best start in 65 years.

    Fast Facts

    • Albert Pujols hit his ninth home run and scored on home runs by Chris Duncan and Ryan Ludwick. Pujols had five home runs and 11 RBIs in his last nine games.

    • The Cardinals improved to 9-0 this season when Pujols goes deep.

    • Todd Wellemeyer earned his second win of the season allowing two earned runs in seven innings. Wellemeyer has won his last six decisions in May and is 8-1 all-time in the month of May.

    • St. Louis has won nine of its last 11 games, while the Nationals are an MLB-worst 5-17.

    • Jordan Zimmermann lost his first major league game after starting his rookie season 2-0.

    • Ryan Zimmerman extended his hitting streak to 20 games in the losing effort.

    -- ESPN Stats & Information

    Albert Pujols hit one of the Cardinals' season-high four home runs, backing Todd Wellemeyer's seven effective innings in a 6-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Friday night.

    Ludwick and Chris Duncan also connected off Jordan Zimmermann, giving St. Louis homers from its 3-4-5 hitters off the rookie right-hander in his first career loss. Joe Thurston later added his first major league home run for St. Louis, which has won three in a row and nine of 11 overall.

    "I feel like the middle of the order has been doing good, but I feel like the whole lineup has been doing a good job," Ludwick said. "I think we're still one of the top offensive leaders in baseball. Combine that with the pitching we're getting and it's a deadly combination."

    The Cardinals' 17-7 start is their best since 1944 and they wasted no time in providing Wellemeyer an early lead against the Nationals, whose 5-17 mark is the worst in the majors.

    "The main thing is to go out and try to do as much damage as we can," Pujols said. "Anytime you can give a lead to the pitcher, he would love to take it. It gives him something to work on."

    Wellemeyer (2-2) allowed two runs on six hits, walked two and struck out three.

    "He got into an early grove, and just concentrated great," Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa said. "Lately, he's had some periods, especially early, where he wasn't quite right. He had to compete hard to stay in the game."

    The right-hander hopes Friday's start is a repeat of last May, when he went 4-0 and was named the pitcher of the month in the National League.

    "May last year was excellent to me, so keep it going," Wellemeyer said.

    Washington finally got to Wellemeyer in the seventh. Jesus Flores tripled off the wall in center and Willie Harris followed with a homer to right.

    Ryan Zimmerman singled in the third, extending his hitting streak to a Nationals-record 20 games. It's the longest streak in the majors this season.

    Pujols gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the first on his ninth homer, a towering shot down the left-field line.

    A two-run homer by Duncan extended the lead to 3-0 in the fourth. Pujols hit a leadoff double before Duncan sent a 1-0 fastball from Zimmermann (2-1) into the stands in right-center.

    In the sixth, Ludwick followed Pujols' third hit of the game with his sixth homer, ending an 0-for-13 skid.

    "He's not perfect and he missed with his location a few times," Nationals manager Manny Acta said of Zimmermann. "It happened that every time he missed, the ball went out of the ballpark. He went after them, and that's what we like."

    Zimmermann, one of the top young pitching prospects in baseball, allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings. He walked none and struck out six.

    "Up here, they don't miss hardly as much as they do [in the minors]," said Zimmermann, who had yielded one homer over 11 1-3 innings in his first two starts. "You can't make those mistakes up here."

    Thurston lined a homer inside the right-field foul pole in the seventh off Logan Kensing.

    Game notes

    St. Louis 2B Skip Schumaker went 0 for 5, ending his hitting streak at a career-best 11 games. ... Cardinals starting pitchers have allowed only five homers this season. ... The last 20-game hitting streak by a Washington, D.C.-based player came in 1953 by the Washington Senators' Mickey Vernon. ... Flores has tripled on consecutive nights after having one triple in his first 187 career games.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Game Information

    StadiumNationals Park, Washington, D.C.
    Attendance20,697 (49.9% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
    Game Time2:31
    Weather76 degrees, cloudy
    Wind8 mph
    UmpiresHome Plate - Tim Welke, First Base - Angel Hernandez, Second Base - Bill Welke, Third Base - Kevin Causey