Cards’ bats come alive; late tie becomes laugher

Three runs in seventh inning, five in eighth break game open
Tuesday, July 3, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:21 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008
Cardinals right fielder Ryan Ludwick makes the catch on a fifth-inning flyball by Arizona’s Stephen Drew during Monday’s game.

ST. LOUIS — As the All-Star break approaches, the St. Louis Cardinals’ offense showed some signs of life.

Albert Pujols hit a tiebreaking, two-run single in the seventh inning and Scott Rolen had four RBIs in an 11-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night.

St. Louis, 14th among the 16 NL teams in scoring coming in, has put up 11 runs in consecutive games.

“I don’t look at what happened the first half of the year. I look at what happened today,” Pujols said. “What we did two months ago, or the last couple of games, we can’t control. It’s good to see the whole team coming out with big hits and, when we need it, big plays.”

Braden Looper, in his first outing following a stint on the disabled list caused by a shoulder strain, allowed three runs and four hits in six innings. Russ Springer (4-1) pitched a perfect seventh to earn the win.

Looper allowed one hit in his first five innings and led 2-0 before Arizona scored three runs in the sixth. St. Louis tied it in the bottom half, took a 6-3 lead in the seventh and broke open the game with five runs in the eighth.

“I’d say it went pretty good for five innings,” Looper said. “In the sixth inning, I made a few mistakes and they made me pay for them. I kept the ball off the sweet part of the bat most of the time.”

Brandon Webb (8-6) gave up five runs and seven hits in six-plus innings for the Diamondbacks, who have lost three straight and five of seven. The defending NL Cy Young Award winner is 1-4 with a 4.67 ERA in six starts against the Cardinals.

“There wasn’t a lot of hard-hit balls,” Webb said. “They seemed to find the holes pretty well.”

Manager Bob Melvin promised a lineup shakeup for his team, which is 6-for-58 (.103) with runners in scoring position in its last eight games.

“It will look a little different tomorrow,” Melvin said.

St. Louis built a 2-0 lead on Yadier Molina’s broken-bat RBI single in the second and Rolen’s run-scoring groundout in the third.

Chris Snyder’s leadoff homer and Chad Tracy’s two-run single following a balk by Looper put Arizona ahead in the sixth, but St. Louis came right back to tie in the bottom half when Adam Kennedy bounced an RBI single off the glove of a diving Orlando Hudson at second and into right field.

Pinch-hitter Skip Schumaker beat out an infield hit leading off the seventh, and Webb hit So Taguchi with a pitch. Tony Pena relieved and Aaron Miles reached on another infield hit, loading the bases.

Pujols, the World Series champions’ lone All-Star, followed with an opposite-field single to right for a 5-3 lead. He is 7-for-13 in his last four games.

“I didn’t even know where the ball went,” Pujols said. “I’m just glad it went through.”

Chris Duncan, who has 19 RBIs in his last 15 games, added a run-scoring single on a sinking liner that right fielder Eric Byrnes trapped. Byrnes had been in left before Pena entered in a double switch. Pena had allowed just two of 16 inherited runners to score coming in.

Rolen’s bases-loaded triple capped a five-run eighth off Juan Cruz and Brandon Lyon.

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