Cementing a victory with a record-tying grand slam is certainly one way to emphatically end a slump.
Pujols homered twice, including a grand slam in the 10th inning to power the Cardinals (59-50) to a 12-7 win over the Mets (50-56) on Tuesday night. The reigning NL MVP’s slam was the 11th of his career to set a St. Louis record. It was also his fifth of the season, tying Ernie Banks’ league record set in 1955. He’s now one back of the major league record, held by Travis Hafner(notes) (2006) and Don Mattingly (1987).
Pujols, who had four hits Tuesday, was batting .226 (14 for 62) with two homers and five RBIs in 16 games since appearing in his eighth All-Star game July 14.
“I didn’t change my approach,” said Pujols, who is 7 for 9 with 24 RBIs with the bases loaded this season. “I just made sure I had good swings.”
Pujols is hitting .321 while leading the majors in homers (36), RBIs (97), on-base percentage (.443) and slugging (.682).
He’s certainly enjoyed facing the Mets, batting .488 (14 for 30) with six homers and 18 RBIs in the last 10 meetings.
The right-hander is getting his first start at Citi Field after not faring well in three starts at Shea Stadium, where he was 0-2 with a 9.20 ERA.
Lohse has seen nine of his last 10 starts result in losses for the Cardinals, going 1-6 with a 4.99 ERA in that span, while also landing on the disabled list June 6-July 12 with a right forearm strain. He’s 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in four starts since returning, but the offense has provided him with three runs or less in each outing.
Lohse again received minimal offensive support Thursday, as he yielded one run and five hits in six innings of a 5-3, 10-inning loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Mets, losers of five of six, are dealing with yet another injury as second baseman Luis Castillo(notes) slipped trying to avoid a glove on the dugout steps and sprained his left ankle Tuesday. X-rays were negative, but his status is uncertain.
New York already has nine players on the disabled list, including Carlos Beltran(notes) (knee), Carlos Delgado(notes) (hip) and Jose Reyes (calf), who had his rehab in Florida interrupted so he could return to New York on Monday to be evaluated by doctors.
“I don’t really know what else we have to go through, to be honest to you guys,” Mets ace Johan Santana(notes) said. “We’ve had to go through everything this season and we’re trying to battle through it. We’re trying to pick each other up and trying to step it up. But reality is that we’ve got to have everybody together and healthy.”
The Mets will give rookie Jonathon Niese(notes) (1-1, 4.50) his first start against the Cardinals. The 22-year-old started strong against Colorado on Thursday, throwing five scoreless innings before he was eventually charged with four runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 4-2 loss.