One night after connecting for a towering walkoff home run, Pujols will try to help the NL Central leaders to their sixth win in seven games Saturday night when they host the Washington Nationals.
The Cardinals (75-55) have won 22 of 29. They’re averaging a middling 4.5 runs in that span but have thrived due in large part to a 2.88 staff ERA.
They’ve totaled 10 runs over the last four games, but have won three of them. Pujols homered to left field off Jason Bergmann(notes) in the bottom of the ninth Friday, giving St. Louis a 3-2 win over Washington (46-83) to open this three-game series.
Pujols is batting .316, leads the majors with 41 homers and a .666 slugging percentage and ranking among the leaders with 108 RBIs. However, the first baseman had been 0 for 3 with two groundouts to the pitcher prior to homering Friday.
The reigning NL MVP is batting .212 with two homers and three RBIs over the last 10 games, seven of them wins for St. Louis.
“I could have had a better day, and I ended up chasing a couple of bad pitches,” Pujols said after Friday’s win. “At the end of the night I came through for the ballclub.”
Pujols is hitting .417 with five homers in his last 15 games against Washington.
The Cardinals have won nine of their last 11 meetings with the Nationals, including four straight at Busch Stadium.
St. Louis will give the ball to rookie Mitchell Boggs(notes) (1-2, 4.58), who was recalled Sunday from Triple-A Memphis for the fourth time this season after being sent to the minors three days earlier.
In his most recent stint in the majors, Boggs lost both of his starts while surrendering nine runs and 18 hits in 10 innings.
He started in a 9-4 win as Washington on April 30, allowing four runs in six innings and striking out a career-high nine while not getting a decision.
The Nationals have alternated wins and losses over their last six games following a five-game slide. Rookie Craig Stammen(notes) (4-6, 5.08) will try to help them avoid consecutive losses again when he starts against the Cardinals for the first time.
The 25-year-old right-hander won Sunday, when he yielded three runs in 6 1-3 innings of an 8-3 victory over Milwaukee. Stammen had been 0-1 with an 8.71 ERA in his previous five starts, but received two runs of support or fewer in four of them.
“You’re always trying not to give up any hits - that’s the goal always - but it’s a little bit of extra comfort in the back of your mind that if you do make a mistake, you’re still right there,” Stammen said of the eight runs by his teammates Sunday. “You don’t have to be picture perfect.”