Pujols, baseball’s top hitter in interleague games, now looks to lead the Cardinals to their fourth straight win Friday in the opener of a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals.
St. Louis (24-17) defeated the Cubs 3-1 on Thursday, limiting Chicago to two runs in the three-game sweep. The Cardinals, who were swept by Milwaukee last weekend, entered that series losers of seven of nine.
“We played a really bad series against Milwaukee, top to bottom, and we came back and beat a really good team,” said Thursday’s winning pitcher, Adam Wainwright(notes), who came within one out of a complete game.
Pujols gave the Cardinals a first-inning lead with a solo homer off the third deck of the left-field stands to snap a seven-game homerless streak. The ball knocked out the electricity in the “I” on the Big Mac Land sign.
“It’s cool doing things like that,” said Pujols, whose 14 homers are tied for third-most in the majors.
Pujols is the all-time leader in interleague batting average (.350) and was 12 for 28 (.429) with two homers and five RBIs in seven games against the AL last season.
The reigning NL MVP is batting .388 with 11 home runs, 13 doubles and 40 RBIs in 36 career games against the Royals (21-20), and he’s 11 for 25 (.440) with a homer and seven RBIs in six games against them at Busch Stadium.
Despite all of Pujols’ success against Kansas City, the Cardinals dropped four of six to the Royals last season and were swept in a three-game series at Busch.
The Royals lost to Cleveland 8-3 on Thursday and have dropped nine of 12 after winning a season-high six in a row.
Kansas City’s Zack Greinke(notes) left Thursday’s game after six innings with a 3-2 lead, but the bullpen couldn’t seal the victory. Royals relievers, who were expected to be a strength this year, have allowed 10 runs and 14 hits in their last six innings.
Although Davies is still seeking his first road victory of the season, he’s been his best away from Kansas City. The right-hander has yet to record a decision in three road starts despite posting a 1.89 ERA.
Davies won his only start at Busch Stadium on June 17, allowing one run and five hits in seven innings of a 2-1 victory.
After allowing four runs in 14 innings in winning his first two starts this month, Wellemeyer has been tagged for 11 runs in 10 innings in losing his last two. On Sunday, the right-hander gave up four runs, three hits and a career-high seven walks while also hitting two batters in 5 2-3 innings of an 8-2 loss to Milwaukee.
“He’s shown enough to where we’ve got to stay with him,” manager Tony La Russa told the Cardinals’ official Web site. “He’s got this rough patch of several games and he’s working through it.”
In his only career start against the Royals on June 20, 2007, Wellemeyer gave up four runs and five hits in five innings of a 7-6, 14-inning victory.