Cardinals 10, Braves 4

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ATLANTA (AP)—After an up-and-down year, Danny Haren savored his latest victory.

“When they come as far between as these last two have, you understand how hard it is to win a big league game,” he said.

Scott Rolen homered twice to become the first NL player to reach 100 RBIs this season and Haren won for the first time in more than a year, leading the St. Louis Cardinals past the Atlanta Braves 10-4 Sunday night.

Albert Pujols added another home run as the Cardinals won two of three in the battle of division leaders, handing Atlanta its first series loss since the end of June. St. Louis has the best road record in the major leagues at 40-19

“Their record is definitely deserved,” Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa said. “But we’re good, too.”

Rolen hit a pair of two-run drives off John Thomson (9-8) and reached 100 RBIs for the third straight season.

“I’m not trying to rack up personal accolades,” Rolen said. “I’m not going to have a lot of success if I go out and try for personal goals.”

Chipper Jones hit a solo homer for the Braves, giving him 1,000 career RBIs. He joined Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews and Dale Murphy as the only players in franchise history to amass that total with the club.

Haren (1-2) limited the Braves to three runs and seven hits in five innings to win for the first time since he beat Pittsburgh on Aug. 11 last year. He started in place of Chris Carpenter, who was skipped because of stiffness in his lower back.

“He did an outstanding job,” LaRussa said. “It’s huge for him, and huge for us.”

In his previous start, the 23-year-old Haren lasted only 3 2-3 innings against the Chicago Cubs, giving up 10 runs and 10 hits.

“That last game, it was just a fluke,” Haren said. “By no means did I dwell on that. I just came out and tried to do my job.”

Thomson, who lost for the first time in seven starts since July 3, gave up eight runs—four earned—and seven hits in four innings. Atlanta made three errors, including two in a six-run second inning, to increase its total to 97, the third-most in the NL.

Atlanta was without right fielder J.D. Drew, who sat out with a strained right quadriceps.

“It’s another series, honestly,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “They were saying back in the first month of the season it was a make or break series with Florida. Then we went into Philadelphia, another make or break. You hear it all year long.

“They’re series. That’s the only way you can look at it.”

Rafael Furcal singled off Haren to start the first and scored on a double by Marcus Giles. But Haren retired Jones on a grounder and struck out Johnny Estrada to end the threat.

Thomson bobbled a sacrifice bunt by Haren that loaded the bases with no outs in the second. Tony Womack hit into a forceout at home, but Estrada threw wildly to first, allowing a run to score.

Larry Walker singled home two runs with a grounder that got past Furcal at shortstop, and Rolen made it 6-1 with his first home run.

“That’s just one of those innings you forget about,” Giles said. “It doesn’t happen all the time. It was just pretty much a bad game all around. It’s been a while since we’ve had one of those, really.”

Notes

It was Rolen’s fifth multihomer game this year, the 18th of his career. … Atlanta LF Mark DeRosa hit into two double plays. … St. Louis LF Reggie Sanders was credited with a stolen base in the third when he went to second after a popout by Mike Matheny. The Braves infielders turned their backs to him, so Sanders scampered into second without a throw.

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