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David Brown

The Juice: Cardinals sit Pujols, use backups to stun Dodgers

David Brown
Big League Stew

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Gather 'round, because it's time to recap the most recent diamond doings. Roll Call starts in St. Louis, where Tony La Russa gave Albert Pujols(notes), Colby Rasmus(notes) and Yadier Molina(notes) a rest from the starting lineup. The strategy worked to a "TLR."

Game of the Day
Cardinals 5, Dodgers 4

Get me backups! Imagine playing the Indianapolis Colts on a day when their head coach decides to rest quarterback Peyton Manning and instead plays reserve Jim Sorgi. Pretty sweet for your team, huh? It's a little different in baseball (just ask George Carlin) but the Cards showed they can win at least one with Pujols' backup leading the way.

Wait, the Cardinals have a backup first baseman? Who knew?

Or is it "Craig Allen"? Allen Craig(notes) (pictured) batted third, just like Albert, and drove in three runs in the final two innings — on his 26th birthday, no less. Craig, who came into Sunday a non-robust 2 for 22 this season, lined a tying RBI single against Jonathan Broxton(notes) with two outs in the ninth. In the eighth, he got the Cardinals on the board with a two-run double.

He came from Class AAA, where he had a knack for driving in runs. Being a major leaguer, Craig says, is better.

"It's awesome," Craig said. "It's the best birthday present I ever had."

Pujols and Molina just needed the rest, La Russa said.

"You have to spot [Pujols] a day four or five times during the year," La Russa said. "Sometimes you just have to watch him.

"Their tanks are empty. Replenish it."

Most of the backup Birds had good days. Filling in for Rasmus was Jon Jay(notes) (the Cardinals are just making up these names). He scored the winning run on Matt Holliday's(notes) single to right.

Watch the end come

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Five'll get ya' 10: The victory was the fifth straight for the Cards, who jumped to 10 games over .500 for the first time since June 5. They also slipped into back first place in the NL Central.

"The most significant thing is that we're 10 games over .500," La Russa said.

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They Also Played ...

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Twins 7, White Sox 6: A Hall of Fame at-bat by Orlando Hudson(notes) — a 10-pitch walk against Bobby Jenks(notes) — set the tone for a four-run ninth. The Twins could have scored 10 or 11 runs if they had to. Just a great victory.

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Cubs 11, Phillies 6: They're two games out of a playoff spot — so why do the Phillies seem so hopeless? Granted, Roy Halladay(notes) (right) getting knocked around by the Cubs might blow some holes in your hope chest...

Yankees 9, Rays 5: Andy Pettitte's(notes) groin reminded us all that he is 38 years old. Thanks for the head's up, Andy Pettitte's groin. Sergio Mitre(notes) to the rescue!

Marlins 1, Nationals 0: The Gnats went a combined 0 for 18 with runners in scoring position over the past two games. Oh for eighteen. Remember when we thought the Nats could be, you know, mediocre? Well, they're 40-52 and 14 back of first.

Don't get cocky, Marlins fan. The Fish went 1 for 10 with RISP on Sunday, with the one being Gaby Sanchez(notes). Gabbo! You're gonna like him.

Indians 7, Tigers 2: Leyland must take Al Oliver out of the rotation. Not only is he in his 60s, he's a first baseman. To that end, Rick Porcello(notes) should return from his sabbatical soon.

Rockies 1, Reds 0: Aaron Cook(notes) and Chris Iannetta(notes) prevent a sweep. C'mon boys, how can you squeeze only one combined run from Great American Ball Park on a hot day like that?

Rangers 4, Red Sox 2: The C.J. Wilson(notes) transition-to-starter continues to work out great. The Strangers were this close to a four-game sweep at Fenway. They're on their way to the AL West title. Crown 'em!

Mets 4, Giants 3 (10 inn.): Jason Bay(notes): "We had no business losing that game, and at the same time, there was a point we had no business winning that game."

Spot-on analysis. The Mets blew another strong outing by Johan Santana(notes) but, with an umpire's help, lived long enough for Ike Davis(notes) to drive in the winning run.

Mariners 2, Angels 1 (10 inn): Jason Vargas(notes): A good reason to watch the Mariners.

Pirates 9, Astros 0: They're making batting coach Jeff Bagwell look bad.

Blue Jays 10, Orioles 1: It's only because he hates running hard (and America) that Yunel Escobar(notes) hit his first career grand slam.

Braves 11, Brewers 6: Big hit: Mr. All-Star MVP himself, Brian McCann(notes), who delivered a grand slam.

Padres 6, D-backs 4: If anyone asks how the Padres are doing it, just tell them "two homers from Chris Denorfia(notes)" and shrug your shoulders.

Athletics 9, Royals 6: I'd like to see Adam Rosales(notes) hit an inside-the-park home run, just to see how fast he'd go 'round the bases.

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