Cardinals 6, Brewers 5

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ST. LOUIS (AP)—Jim Edmonds is brief in describing the year Albert Pujols is having.

“There’s three words you say about Albert: `Most Valuable Player,”’ Edmonds said after Pujols had three hits to increase his major league-leading total to 202, helping St. Louis beat the Milwaukee Brewers 6-5 Tuesday night.

Barry Bonds is an unbelievable player and Preston Wilson is having a great year, too,” Edmonds said. “But I’ve never seen anybody have a year like Albert.”

Pujols leads the major leagues in hitting at .367 and is second in RBIs with 123.

“I want to finish strong. I want to come back and try and get a couple of knocks tomorrow and help my team win,” Pujols said.

St. Louis, which remained 4 1/2 games back of first-place Houston in the NL Central, improved to 10-2 against Milwaukee with its fifth straight win over the Brewers.

Sterling Hitchcock (3-1), pitching out of a windup for the first time since April, increased his record against the Brewers to 9-2, allowing four runs, three hits and five walks in 5 1-3 innings.

Four relievers finished the five-hitter, with Jason Isringhausen pitching the ninth for his 18th save.

The Cardinals scored in each of the first four innings. St. Louis finished with nine hits, six of them doubles.

Luis Martinez (0-2), making his third major league start, allowed six runs and eight hits in 3 1-3 innings.

St. Louis took a 3-0 lead in the first, when Pujols got his 200th hit on what appeared to be a routine fly ball. Left fielder Mark Smith turned the wrong way and fell down. He got up but the ball fell on the warning track for a double.

“It’s amazing, it’s crazy,” Pujols said. “The last three years, what I’ve done in this game is unbelievable. What I’ve done this year is really special.”

Smith said he just lost the ball.

“By the time I picked the ball up, it was about 15 feet behind me,” Smith said. “I went to go back, and I fell, and when I looked up I couldn’t find it again. And I finally found it, and I fell again when I went to make the move. It was just one of those ugly plays you see.”

Scott Rolen followed with a run-scoring single, and Edgar Renteria hit a two-run double.

Bo Hart’s squeeze bunt in the second and a run-scoring wild pitch by Martinez in the third made it 5-0.

Wes Helms hit a two-run homer in the fourth, but Pujols hit an RBI single in the bottom half for a 6-2 lead.

Pujols drove in Hart in the fourth after Edmonds sacrificed him to third. It was Edmonds’ first sacrifice since 2001 and just the sixth in his big league career.

“Actually, no, I wasn’t surprised,” Edmonds said. “Albert’s got 122 RBIs behind me, and we’ve got a guy on second. My job is to get him over to third. When I was told to bunt, I thought, ‘No, kidding.”’

Milwaukee closed in the sixth when pinch-hitter Pete Zoccolillo singled off Jason Simontacchi for his first major league RBI and Scott Podsednik hit atwo-run single off Jeff Fassero.

Notes

Hart, the St. Louis second baseman, made a leaping catch with his back to the plate on a second-inning fly by Richie Sexson. … Pujols leads the NL with 49 doubles. … Pujols is the 41st Cardinal to have at least 200 hits in aseason and the first since Willie McGee had 215 in 1985.

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