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August 21, 2009

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Pujols sends Cardinals past Dodgers

Albert Pujols scored the go-ahead run in the ninth inning on Wednesday to give the St Louis Cardinals a 3-2 win in the rubber match of a three-game series with the National League-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.

After drawing a leadoff walk against reliever Jonathon Broxton, Pujols stole second base, then capitalized on a catcher's error to reach third before being brought home with a sacrifice-fly from Matt Holliday.

Pujols, who walked three times on the night, surprised Los Angeles when he broke for second on a 3-0 pitch for his 12th steal of the year.

When Russell Martin's throw to second sailed into the outfield, the Cardinals first baseman advanced closer to scoring the winning run.

"My job as the leadoff guy in that inning was to try to get on base and give a chance to the guys behind me to drive me in," Pujols said. "Matt did a great job to elevate the ball."

Elsewhere in the NL, it was: Phillies 8, Diamondbacks 1; Rockies 5, Nationals 4; Pirates 3, Brewers 1; Braves 15, Mets 2; Giants 1, Reds 0; Astros 6, Marlins 3; and Cubs 7, Padres 1.

In the American League, it was: White Sox 4, Royals 2; Angels 3, Indians 0; Mariners 3, Tigers 1; Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 1; Rays 3, Orioles 1; Twins 5, Rangers 4; and Yankees 3, Athletics 2.

In Los Angeles, closer Ryan Franklin held off the Dodgers in the bottom of the ninth for his 31st save of the year as the hosts left a man stranded on second with one out.

St Louis (69-53) kept its six-game lead in the NL Central Division, while Los Angeles's (71-50) advantage in the NL West is now just 3 1/2 games after leading by nine games in June.

"We have to go out and put a streak together," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre. "This is where you have to fight for what you want and get through these things."

After denying Los Angeles a hit through five innings, top Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright surrendered solo home runs to Andre Ethier and Casey Blake in the seventh to allow the Dodgers to fight back to 2-2.

Wainwright came into the game looking for his major league-best 15th win but took a no-decision after pitching seven innings and striking out three.

He got an early cushion when St Louis scored twice in the fourth on an RBI double from Yadier Molina and a run-scoring single by Brendan Ryan, who finished with three hits.

In Chicago, Jose Contreras won for the first time in six weeks as the White Sox downed Kansas City.

Gordon Beckham, Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios hit solo homers off Zack Greinke (11-8), the first three-homer game off the Royals ace since he allowed four at US Cellular Field on June 3 last year.

Contreras had gone 0-4 with a 7.62 ERA in six starts since beating Cleveland on July 8.


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