Coming off a four-hit game, Pujols hopes to lead the second-place Cardinals past the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates in the third of a four-game series.
Riding a hitting streak of at least 10 games for the third times this season, Pujols went 4-for-5 with four RBIs Saturday in the Cardinals’ 13-8 win. Pujols, who leads the majors with a .376 batting average, has scored 15 runs and has 14 RBIs during his streak.
Second in the NL with 96 RBIs, Pujols leads the league with 44 multi-hit games.
Still 3 1/2 games behind the Houston Astros in the NL Central, the Cardinals are in desperate need of some help from their pitchers. St. Louis has surrendered fewer than four runs in just four of its last 16 games.
The Pirates, meanwhile, had their three-game winning streak snapped Saturday.
Pittsburgh scored runs in the first and second innings on RBI singles by Brian Giles and Jason Kendall. However, right-hander Woody Williams blanked the Pirates over the next three innings, allowing only one hit.
STANDINGS: Pirates - 4th place, 7 1/2 GB, NL Central. Cardinals - 2nd place, 3 1/2 GB, NL Central.
PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Salomon Torres (5-3, 4.31 ERA). Torres, who has pitched mostly out of the bullpen this season, will make his second straight start and ninth of the season. The righty made a spot start against the Houston Astros on Tuesday, allowing two runs and six hits over six innings in 2-0 loss. In six games against St. Louis, including four starts, Torres is 1-2 with a 2.93 ERA.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Jeff Fassero (1-5, 6.70 ERA). After pitching exclusively out of the bullpen for three years, the 40-year-old lefty will start his second straight game. In replacing righty Garret Stephenson in the rotation, Fassero has become the Cardinals’ only left-handed starter this season. In Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the San Diego Padres, Fassero allowed five hits and one run over four innings. In 40 games against Pittsburgh, including eight starts, Fassero is 5-4 with a 2.35 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Pirates - Kendall, .306 avg. and 59 runs; Reggie Sanders, 17 HRs; Giles, 52 RBIs; Pokey Reese and Sanders, 6 SBs. Cardinals - Pujols, .376 avg., 96 RBIs and 94 runs; Pujols and Jim Edmonds, 29 HRs; Edgar Renteria, 24 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 4-4.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Pirates - 2B Jeff Reboulet is 2-for-15 (.133) against LHP Fassero with four strikeouts. … The Pirates have scored 36 runs in their last four games. … OF Giles has driven in a run in five of his last six games. Cardinals - The Cardinals have won five of six at home. … SS Renteria is 10-for-16 (.625) over his last four games. … C Joe Girardi is 4-for-9 against RHP Torres
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Pirates - 25-25 on the road; Cardinals - 30-21 at home.
INJURIES: Pirates - RHP Brandon Lyon (elbow), 15-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL; INF Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL; INF Reese (thumb), 60-day DL. Cardinals - C Girardi (back), 15-day DL; C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; INF Miguel Cairo (hand), 15-day DL; INF Fernando Vina (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Eli Marrero (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Matt Morris (hand), 15-day DL; RHP Russ Springer (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Kiko Calero (foot), 60-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL.