Cardinals 4, Pirates 0

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PITTSBURGH (AP)—Albert Pujols turned down a day off and then joined some elite company.

Pujols hit his 40th home run and reached 100 RBIs for the fourth consecutive season, and the St. Louis Cardinals completed a three-game sweep of the Pirates with a 4-0 victory Sunday.

Pujols, who also hit his first triple of the season, became the fourth player to start his major league career with four straight seasons with at least 100 RBIs. He joined Hall of Famers Al Simmons, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams as the only players to accomplish the feat.

“It’s awesome,” Pujols said. “It’s tough to get 100 at this level, but I’m here to do the best I can to win. I don’t care who they try to compare me to. I just want to be myself and try to get better every day. It’s about winning. That’s why I’m here. I want to be a winner and hopefully we’ll get that opportunity this year.”

Pujols was refreshed after being given Saturday off. It was just the sixth game he’s missed.

“I felt like yesterday was a good time to do it,” he said. “My body was telling me I was so tired.”

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he considered resting Pujols on Sunday, too.

“I told him no because I felt strong enough to go out and play,” Pujols said. “We were facing a tough lefty and I needed to go out there and try to help us to win.”

Jason Marquis (13-4) held the Pirates to four hits in 7 1-3 shutout innings to win his 10th straight decision. He hasn’t lost since the Pirates beat him 11-8 on May 26. He walked four and hit a batter as the Cardinals won their seventh straight game against the Pirates.

“I was more than pleased,” La Russa said. “It was a tough matchup against (Oliver) Perez, a hot day, the end of a road trip. It was an outstanding performance.”

Marquis said the heat and humidity didn’t bother him.

“I felt great,” he said. “I’m feeling real good physically and my mechanics have been good. Things have been going pretty well and my team has a lot to do with that. We’ve been playing real good baseball. I’m just glad to be part of it.”

Ray King got one out in the eighth, and Julian Tavarez got four outs for his fourth save in St. Louis’ 10th shutout.

Perez (9-7) had won three consecutive decisions and six of eight, but gave up three runs on five hits in six innings.

“He had a couple of mistake pitches, but he certainly pitched well enough to win a game,” manager Lloyd McClendon said.

The Pirates have lost nine of their last 12—with seven of the losses to St. Louis. They were 1-7 in consecutive weekend series against the Cardinals.

“We have a long way to go to get to their level,” Pirates outfielder Rob Mackowiak said.

Pujols’ triple keyed a two-run third inning against Perez that gave St. Louis a 2-0 lead. With one out, Roger Cedeno walked and scored when Pujols’ drive rolled to the notch in left-center field, the deepest part of PNC Park. Pujols, who reached third standing, scored when Scott Rolen blooped a single just beyond shortstop Jack Wilson’s reach.

“He’s going about it the right way,” La Russa said. “He just tries to win the game and the numbers just happen.”

The Cardinals added a run in the sixth. Rolen led off with a walk and scored two outs later when Mike Matheny’s sinking liner fell for a double, then rolled away from left fielder Jason Bay. Pujols hit Brian Meadows’ first pitch of the eighth over the center-field wall to make it 4-0.

The Cardinals are 18-6 on the road since the All-Star break.

“There’s a terrific attitude on this team,” La Russa said. “The guys really push each other. This club has played at a really high level for a long time and that’s hard to do. You have to dig deep and they do, every day.”

Notes

Marquis picked Mackowiak off second base to help escape a jam in the sixth. The Pirates had runners at first and second with one out at the time. … La Russa rested outfielders Jim Edmonds and Larry Walker, along with second baseman Tony Womack. … 3B Ty Wigginton, acquired by the Pirates from the Mets in the Kris Benson trade, has started to hear some boos. He struck out twice and grounded into a double play, and has one hit in his last 18 at-bats. … Pirates outfielder Craig Wilson was hit by a pitch for a league-leading 26th time.

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