PITTSBURGH — Albert Pujols hit his major league-leading 17th home run, Tony Womack had four hits and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 on Wednesday night.
Pujols’ two-run shot in the first inning gave him a home run in four of his past five games and helped the Cardinals win for the sixth time in seven games, including three straight.
He began the night tied with Arizona’s Steve Finley for the big league lead.
St. Louis starter Chris Carpenter (6-1) allowed three runs and seven hits in seven-plus innings, striking out a season-high nine and sending Pittsburgh to its fourth straight loss.
Jason Isringhausen got three straight outs for his 10th save in 13 chances.
Jason Kendall extended his hitting streak to 19 games for Pittsburgh.
The most recent of Womack’s four consecutive singles came off reliever Mike Johnston (0-2) in the sixth inning and drove in John Mabry, who doubled home Edgar Renteria to break a 3-3 tie.
Womack went 4-for-5, his 14th career four-hit game and second this season. He also had four hits April 9 at Arizona.
Pirates starter Kip Wells, who has won one of his past eight starts, allowed three runs and four hits in five innings. He came out for the sixth and briefly warmed up before leaving because of irritation on the tip of his right middle finger.
The Pirates tied it at 3 with two runs in the fourth. Craig Wilson and Rob Mackowiak opened the inning with singles, and Wilson scored on Bobby Hill’s single off the right-field wall, with Hill going to second on right fielder Marlon Anderson’s throwing error.
Randall Simon knocked in Mackowiak with a sacrifice fly before Carpenter retired Jose Castillo on a fly ball and struck out Wells.
St. Louis took a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning without a hit.
Wells walked Jim Edmonds and Ray Lankford to open the inning, and Lankford was forced at second base on Renteria’s groundball. Mabry hit a line drive to left field that a charging Wilson dropped for an error, with Edmonds scoring and Renteria going to third. Renteria was tagged out at home on Cody McKay’s grounder to Wells, and Carpenter grounded out.
Pujols’ one-out home run also drove in Anderson, who reached on a fielder’s choice.
The Pirates cut the lead to 2-1 in the first when Kendall scored from second on Daryl Ward’s sacrifice fly to deep left-center.
Lankford caught the ball but took several extra steps toward the warning track before throwing to cutoff man Renteria. Kendall slid home ahead of Mike Matheny’s tag.