Pujols homers twice, Cards beat Brewers
Wainwright became the first pitcher to reach 18 wins this season, Pujols hit two home runs for a majors-leading 47 and the Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 5-1 Wednesday.
St. Louis got a scare when Matt Holliday tripped running out a grounder in the third. He bruised his left knee and left two innings later. The star left fielder said he'd be back in the lineup Friday.
"I took my eye off of what I was doing and my cleat got caught," he said. "I'm all right, it's just a little bit swollen. With an 11 1/2-game lead, there's no reason to push it."
Holliday is hitting .360 with 12 home runs and 42 RBIs since the Cardinals got him from Oakland on July 24. St. Louis is 32-11 since getting him and well on its way to a fourth NL Central title.
Wainwright (18-7) pitched seven scoreless innings. He's in contention with teammate and former Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter, for this year's NL award.
"It'd be cool. It'd be awesome, but winning for the team comes first," Wainwright said. "Whether I win it or not, I still feel good about how the season's been."
Pujols tied Mark McGwire's franchise mark with 10 multihomer games in a season and has put up MVP-like numbers by hitting .331 with 124 RBIs. Manager Tony La Russa refused to address who might win that individual honor.
"Those are the kind of questions that are distracting and I don't answer them," La Russa said.
Wainwright struck out six and scattered five hits while surpassing 200 innings this year.
"It's a milestone that in your head you think you're going to at least throw that. It certainly wasn't a goal to throw only 200 innings," he said. "If you're carrying your team deep into games, the goal should be a little bit more."
Wainwright was sharp after allowing six runs in his previous appearance, snapping his streak of 13 straight outings of two runs or less.
"It was what I needed," Wainwright said. "Not that I needed reassurance after the last start, but it's nice to get back on track."
Brewers manager Ken Macha said St. Louis' pitching staff will be tough in the postseason. The Brewers will certainly have a lot of time to watch after being the NL wild card last year. They led the NL Central by two games heading into this July, only to fall 17 games back in the span of 70 days.
"We've just seen some pretty good pitching. Those guys were good. They're tough on everybody in this league. They'll be really tough in a five-game series. But sometimes you've got to outduel them," Macha said.
St. Louis gave Wainwright the lead from the start against Jeff Suppan (6-9). Holliday hit a sacrifice fly after Colby Rasmus walked and Pujols singled.
In the fifth, Wainwright doubled, Rasmus tripled and Pujols hit a two-run homer that made it 4-0. Pujols sprinted around the bases, hardly stopping to greet teammates at the plate, and ran into the dugout to celebrate there.
Pujols, who has scored in nine consecutive games, brushed off whether this was his most consistent season ever.
"I don't think until the end of the season," he said. "So whenever I'm sitting home I'll look over the season. I still have a lot of games left, so I'm going to try and make sure I stay focused the rest of the season."
Pujols would have more to cheer about in the seventh with a solo shot to left-center field that gave St. Louis a 5-0 lead and increased his RBI total to 124, one behind Milwaukee's Prince Fielder for most in the majors this season.
"I don't know how anybody could ever be better than he is. Ever," Wainwright said. "No offense to Henry Aaron and all those guys. I'm sorry, Hank. But Albert Pujols is really, really good."
NOTES: Wainwright is 3-1 with a 0.59 ERA against the Brewers this year. ... Felipe Lopez homered in the eighth off reliever Trever Miller for Milwaukee's only run. The Brewers scored 10 runs total in this 1-5 homestand. ... Brewers LHP Manny Parra (neck spasms) was stiff in the clubhouse and is day-to-day after leaving Tuesday's start in the first inning.
Last updated: 11:25 am Thursday, December 13, 2012