Pujols has a chance to homer in five straight games for the first time in his career as the Cardinals play the middle game of their series with the struggling Florida Marlins on Wednesday night.
St. Louis (60-62) got another round-tripper from Pujols, and scored four times in the eighth en route to a 5-2 win over Florida (56-70) in the series opener Tuesday night, handing the Marlins their season-worst seventh straight loss.
Thanks partly to some strong hitting, the Cardinals have won two straight and seven of nine to draw within three games of Milwaukee and the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. Pujols has led the way, homering in four straight games for the seventh time in his career.
“It’s good because I’m helping my team to win,” said Pujols, who also has an RBI in six consecutive games. “That’s what it’s all about. No matter how many home runs you hit, you just need to hit them at the right time.”
This is Pujols’ longest homer streak since another four-game run from April 15-18, 2006. He went 10 days between homers before beginning his current run.
Pujols has hit well in Braden Looper’s last five starts, batting .333 (6-for-18) with two home runs and eight RBIs. Looper (10-10, 4.98 ERA), who will get the start for St. Louis, has gotten 10 runs to work with twice in that span.
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in his last two starts. He gave up two runs and four hits in six innings of a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Friday.
Looper beat the Marlins in his first career start against them, allowing two runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-3 win on July 16. His other 16 appearances against his former team were in relief, and he is 3-2 with a 6.23 ERA.
Looper was with the Marlins from 1999-2003, saving 65 games during that stretch.
Armando Benitez, who took over for Looper in 2004 and saved 47 games for Florida, took the loss Tuesday. He gave up four unearned runs and retired two batters.
This is the Marlins’ longest skid since losing eight in a row in July 2002.
Florida will now give the ball to Scott Olsen (9-10, 5.25 ERA), who has pitched well over his last three starts, going 1-1 with a 3.54 ERA.
The left-hander allowed three runs—two earned—and six hits while striking out six in seven innings of a 3-0 loss to San Francisco on Friday night.
Olsen is 1-1 in two career starts against the Cardinals.
Miguel Cabrera was back in the starting lineup for the Marlins on Tuesday, hitting his 30th home run after being scratched Monday because he showed up to the ballpark late. The four-time All-Star apologized to manager Fredi Gonzalez, and the issue seems to have been put to rest.
“He realizes what he did was not right,” Gonzalez said told the team’s official Web site.
Florida has homered in 21 of its last 23 games, and has 25 overall in August after leading the NL with 39 in July.