for this game

Smoltz, Pujols lead Cardinals past Nats 3-2

Aug 29, 2009 - 7:56 AM By R.B. FALLSTROM AP Sports Writer

ST. LOUIS(AP) -- Albert Pujols gave himself a little pep talk as he walked to the plate leading off the ninth inning, then put three poor at-bats behind him with one huge swing.

Pujols' eighth career game-winning home run capped a longball rally in the St. Louis Cardinals' 3-2 victory over the Washington Nationals on Friday night, even if it came too late to reward 42-year-old John Smoltz's second dominant start in his National League rebirth.

"He was walking from the dugout and he was talking to himself," manager Tony La Russa said of Pujols. "I asked him what it was and he said 'Get something started, just get on base.' Which is exactly what he should be thinking."

Pujols has 41 homers but only four in the last 21 games, after lining a 1-1 pitch from Jason Bergmann (2-4) an estimated 407 feet over the left-field wall. An inning earlier, Khalil Greene made the dramatics possible with his first career pinch hit-homer off Nationals starter John Lannan, which knotted the game at 2-2.

"The big hero at the end of this night is this guy Khalil," Pujols said. "What he did was not easy."

Greene's sixth homer of the season came in his first at-bat since Aug. 20, and in a role he definitely does not relish. He's 4 for 18 as a pinch hitter, although he does have six RBIs.

"I don't know what preparation you can do," Greene said. "It's nice just to be able to get into a game and do something."

Pujols had two comebackers and a weak fly out before connecting for his first game-winner since July 13, 2006, against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also reached 100 runs for the eighth time in his nine seasons.

Smoltz got a nice ovation as he walked to the dugout after warming up before his first start at home, and again before his first at-bat. He justified the instant adoration with six strong innings, striking out six and allowing a run while leaving with the game tied at 1.

Smoltz doesn't care about the skeptics who point out his first starts have come against last-place teams. He struck out nine, including seven in a row, last Sunday at San Diego. The Nationals are 14-12 in August, with a shot at their first winning month since September 2007.

"People can say what they want about the Nationals maybe not having the best of years, but lately they've been swinging the bat extremely well, scoring in double digits every time you look up," Smoltz said. "I was fortunate to keep them to one run."

Smoltz has a 0.82 ERA after going 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA in Boston, leading to his release earlier this month. Thus far he's added depth beyond the big three of Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Joel Pineiro, whose starts since July 1 have led to a 28-4 record.

St. Louis is a combined 6-13 for all other starters during that span.

Jason Motte (4-4) worked around Elijah Dukes' one-out double in the ninth for the win.

Lannan allowed two runs and four hits in eight innings, a strong rebound from the worst start of his career, when he allowed seven runs in 1 2-3 innings against Milwaukee.

"That was more like what we saw earlier in the year," manager Jim Riggleman said. "He was outstanding against a good hitting ballclub, and got a lot of ground balls."

Giants 2, Rockies 0=

At San Francisco, Tim Lincecum struck out eight in eight innings to end a four-start winless stretch, and Pablo Sandoval homered for San Francisco.

Sandoval hit a solo home run in the fifth to break up a scoreless game. He was back in the lineup after missing three straight starts, two with tightness in his right calf and then Thursday's 11-0 loss to Arizona with the flu.

Lincecum (13-4) earned his first victory since beating Philadelphia on Aug. 1.

Reds 4, Dodgers 2=

At Cincinnati, Homer Bailey gave the best performance of his career, holding the NL's top team scoreless for eight innings to help the Reds win their season-high fifth straight.

Bailey (4-4) allowed only seven singles and had a career-high seven strikeouts while going eight innings for the first time in his career.

Phillies 4, Braves 2=

At Philadelphia, Ryan Howard homered twice and went 3 for 3, and Jamie Moyer (12-9) pitched 4 1-3 innings in relief of Pedro Martinez for Philadelphia.

Howard gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead with a homer in the second off Tommy Hanson (9-3). In the fourth, Howard drove a two-run shot to center off Kris Medlan for his 22nd career multihomer game and fifth this season.

Martinez allowed one hit and one walk in two innings. He didn't return after a rain delay.

Diamondbacks 14, Astros 7=

At Phoenix, John Hester hit a homer in his first major league at-bat, and Arizona scored seven runs in the third inning. Alex Romero and Miguel Montero homered for Arizona, which won for the third time in 12 games.

Pinch-hitting in the sixth, the 25-year-old Hester hit a 2-2 delivery from Wilton Lopez, also making his first appearance in the majors, an estimated 420 feet off the batter's eye in center field.

Cubs 5, Mets 2=

At Chicago, Alfonso Soriano made up for several miscues in the outfield with a tie-breaking three-run homer off Brian Stokes (1-3) in the eighth inning for Chicago.

Milton Bradley led off the inning with a double, his third hit. He scored on Aramis Ramirez's single, tying the game 2-all.

Brewers 8, Pirates 6=

At Milwaukee, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and Jason Bourgeois homered to help Milwaukee snap a three-game losing streak.

Manny Parra (9-10) won for the fifth time in seven starts, allowing six runs and 10 hits in six innings. Trevor Hoffman pitched the ninth for his 28th save and upped his all-time record total to 582.

Padres 9, Marlins 5=

At Miami, Will Venable had two RBI singles and Kyle Blanks added a two-run homer in San Diego's six-run second inning.

San Diego sent 12 batters to the plate in the second. Florida starter Chris Volstad (9-11) was charged with six runs in 1 2-3 innings, his shortest outing in 41 career starts.






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    Nationals 2, Cardinals 3  FinalAug 31 4:18 AM
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  • ** CONFIRMED **
    NL
    WASHINGTON 2
    ST LOUIS 3 FINAL

    Aug 28 10:34 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY ALBERT PUJOLS (41) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 9TH OFF JASON BERGMANN.
    FINAL SCORE: ST LOUIS 3, WASHINGTON 2

    Nationals 2, Cardinals 3  Bot 9, 0 OutsAug 28 10:29 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY KHALIL GREENE (6) TO LEFT CENTER WITH 1 OUT
    IN THE 8TH OFF JOHN LANNAN.
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 2, ST LOUIS 2
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: J LUGO (.306, 1-FOR-3)

    Nationals 2, Cardinals 2  Bot 8, 0 OutsAug 28 10:14 PM
  • 115
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    Nationals 2, Cardinals 2  Bot 8, 0 OutsAug 28 10:14 PM
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    Nationals 2, Cardinals 1  Bot 7, 0 OutsAug 28 9:54 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY JOSH BARD SCORED ELIJAH DUKES
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J BARD ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 2
    ST LOUIS 1 TOP,7TH
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: A GONZALEZ (.258, 1-FOR-2)

    Nationals 2, Cardinals 1  Top 7, 0 OutsAug 28 9:52 PM
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    Nationals 1, Cardinals 1  Bot 5, 0 OutsAug 28 9:23 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY PETE ORR SCORED ALBERTO GONZALEZ
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, W HARRIS ON FIRST, 2 OUTS
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 1
    ST LOUIS 1 TOP,3RD
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: R ZIMMERMAN (.303, 0-FOR-1)

    Nationals 1, Cardinals 1  Top 3, 0 OutsAug 28 8:55 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND DP BY YADIER MOLINA SCORED MATT HOLLIDAY
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, R LUDWICK ON THIRD, 2 OUTS
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 0
    ST LOUIS 1 BOTTOM,2ND
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: C RASMUS (.251, 13 HR, 41 RBI)

    Nationals 0, Cardinals 1  Bot 2, 0 OutsAug 28 8:44 PM