The Cardinals booked a tenacious win Sunday against the Royals that earned the club a return trip to the top of the National League Central Standings.
Unfortunately, the accomplishment was tempered by the fact that the Redbirds lost the franchise's best player when Albert Pujols was part of a nasty collision at first base. After lying on the ground for several minutes in obvious pain, Pujols left the game favoring his shoulder with his right hand clutching his left wrist.
The Cardinals said after the game that Pujols has a sprained wrist -- although they couldn't rule out the possibility of more significant damage until an MRI could be done. That could happen as soon as Monday depending on the swelling. ESPN reported that both the wrist and Pujols' right shoulder were injured in the collision similar to the one Scott Rolen suffered while running the bases a few years back.
“To be honest, I can’t give you guys too much until the X-rays and an MRI tomorrow,” Pujols, whose left wrist was tightly wrapped, told the Associated Press. “I know I’m pretty sore. Am I worried? Of course. Hopefully, everything will come out negative tomorrow. When I come out of a game, believe me, something is really wrong."
The injury happened when Pete Kozma, playing second base, tossed a ball to the home plate side of first base in the sixth inning. Pujols had hit a game-tying homer in the previous half inning, his 17th of the season.
Pujols wasn't the only Cardinals player who got a bad deal Sunday. Starting pitcher Jaime Garcia pitched very well but was robbed of a win by more shoddy defense.
In the first inning he got a weak ground ball from Kansas City centerfielder Melky Cabrara to third base with one out and the bases empty. Daniel Descalso fumbled it when he tried to pick up the ball and there was a runner on first with one out instead of the sacks empty with two gone. Billy Butler doubled to drive home an unearned run before Garcia could get out of the inning.
The Cardinals got on top in the bottom of the first when Ryan Theriot led off with a single then Albert Pujols singled with one out. Matt Holliday struck out then Yadier Molina walked to load the bases for rookie outfielder Andrew Brown who lined two runs home with a two-out, two-strike base hit to left.
Kansas City tied the game in the top of the second when Molina couldn't block a ball at the plate, allowing a Royals runner to move to third with one out. The score remained that way until the bottom of the fifth when Pujols hit his solo homer. But in the top of the sixth rough defense reared its head again.
First Kozma's bad throw let a runner reach with no one out -- besides the fact that it got Pujols hurt. With runners at first and third, shortstop Alcides Escobar tried to safety squeeze the runner home from third. But he got more than he bargained for when no one covered first base and pitcher Mitchell Boggs could do nothing but stand half way between the plate and first base holding the ball.
Schumaker singled home Brown in the third to put the Cardinals up -- yet again -- by a run. But closer Fernando Salas gave up a solo shot to Escobar in the top of the ninth to blow the save.
It was Schumaker who hit an unlikely homer in the bottom of the ninth -- his second homer of the season -- to give the Cardinals the win and put them in a first place tie with Milwaukee.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Pujols was 3-for-3 with two runs scored, and RBI and a homer before he left the game due to injury.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Schumaker's homer.
Lowlight: Pujols' injury.