Holliday HR lifts Cards over Brewers
But he’ll never be surprised when teams pitch around Albert Pujols to get to him. Pujols drew his major league-leading 40th intentional walk to set the stage for Holliday’s go-ahead three-run homer in a 7-6 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.
“I’m going to anticipate Albert being walked if Babe Ruth is hitting behind him,” Holliday said. “I mean, 42 home runs on Sept. 1. I think he’s the best player of all time.
“Look at his first nine seasons, and it would be hard to argue.”
The intentional walks have slowed down for Pujols, who had 32 at the All-Star break but now is the centerpiece of a much more complete lineup. He had none the first 19 games of August, during which the Cardinals went 14-5.
Still, opponents want somebody else to beat them.
“Obviously, having Matt and Mark DeRosa in our lineup it’s not easy now,” Pujols said. “You have to make a pitch and not make a mistake because they’re going to make you pay.”
Holliday’s 20th homer and ninth in 35 games with St. Louis helped Joel Pineiro
(14-9) win his eighth straight.
Pujols hit his major league-leading 42nd homer in the fourth for the Cardinals, who are a major-league best 26-9 since the July 24 trade with the Athletics for Holliday. They’re 30-4 since July 1 in starts by their big three—Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Pineiro.
Rookie Casey McGehee hit a three-run homer in the first and matched his career high with four RBIs for the Brewers, who entered a three-game series against the NL Central leaders with a three-game winning streak.
Skip Schumaker doubled off David Weathers (3-5) with one out in the seventh, and Pujols got his free pass before Holliday drove Todd Coffey’s first pitch an estimated 416 feet over the wall in left-center.
“I went right after him and he got me,” Coffey said of Holliday, a career .406 hitter with six homers and 16 RBIs at new Busch Stadium. “I tried to use his aggressiveness against him.”
The Cardinals have won Pineiro’s last 11 starts and 12 of 13. Pineiro escaped an early hole after only the seventh homer he’s surrendered all season.
Pineiro allowed one more run in his final six innings, retiring 13 of 14 at one point. He helped himself by making the Brewers pound his sinker, striking out none for the third time this season but instead producing 16 groundouts that kept shortstop Brendan Ryan busy (10 assists).
Ryan Franklin, hours after signing a two-year contract extension, allowed two runs in the ninth before getting his NL-leading 37th save in 39 chances. J.J. Hardy, recalled from Triple-A Nashville earlier in the day, and Felipe Lopez each had an RBI.
St. Louis manager Tony La Russa worried about the focus of Franklin and Trever Miller, who also signed a contract extension, before using them. Miller struck out Prince Fielder with a man on for the first out of the eighth.
“I don’t have any numbers to support it, but especially for a pitcher, you announce something that day and it’s distracting,” La Russa said. “Ryan was really fired up, he didn’t have that calmness. Why, I don’t know, but he fought through it.”
Coffey has given up four homers in his last five outings covering 5 2/3 innings, including two in the 13th inning and the loss against the Reds on Aug. 26.
McGehee’s 12th homer to straightaway center with two outs in the first gave the Brewers and Braden Looper a three-run cushion. The lead evaporated in the fourth when Pujols’ homer was the first of four straight hits, with Colby Rasmus adding an RBI single and the tying run scoring on a doubleplay ball.
The Brewers singled three times in the sixth and took the lead on McGehee’s single. St. Louis tied it in the bottom of the sixth on Ryan Ludwick’s double and Yadier Molina’s RBI single, both with two out.
Looper worked six innings for the fourth straight start, giving up four runs on eight hits.