The St. Louis Cardinals downed the Florida Marlins on Thursday night, thanks in large part to Albert Pujols. After plodding through a slump, Pujols broke out in a big way, ending the night just a triple short of the cycle in the Cardinals' 7-4 win.
Matt Holliday began the game with a bang, taking advantage of Marlins starter Clay Hensley's walks of Jon Jay and Pujols by hitting a three-run homer in the top of the first. But Emilio Bonifacio, Omar Infante and Logan Morrison all doubled off Kyle Lohse in the bottom of the inning as the Marlins answered to tie the game at three.
In the top of the third, Hensley loaded the bases with two singles and a hit batsman before beaning David Freese to put the Cardinals ahead, 4-3. Freese toppled backward after being hit by the pitch and had to be removed from the game with a mild concussion. Skip Schumaker then doubled in two more runs to put the Cardinals up by three, 6-3.
In the fourth, Pujols crushed a hanging breaking ball by Burke Badenhop for his 25th homer of the year, giving the Cardinals a 7-3 lead. Pujols doubled in the sixth but was stranded, then missed his chance to hit a triple for the cycle by flying out in the eighth.
The Marlins loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the eighth, but managed only one run on an RBI single by Greg Dobbs. Fernando Salas got out of the jam by retiring Gaby Sanchez for the last out in the inning, then picked up a save with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Kyle McClellan picked up the win with three scoreless frames in relief of Lohse, who was removed from the game after the third inning. The Cardinals gained a half game on the idle Milwaukee Brewers, and are now three games back in the N.L. Central.
Infante left the game after five innings after breaking his right middle finger while fielding a grounder.