The Cardinals scored a late run to beat Florida 3-2 in Miamia Friday night while the Brewers had their way with a gutted Astros team to maintain a three-game lead in the National League Central Division.
Jake Westbrook pitched six strong innings, allowing two runs on six hits, and said after the game that he was ready and willing to go longer. But Mitchell Boggs relieved and threw a scoreless inning -- despite two hits allowed -- to gain his first win of the season.
Tied at two at the start of the eighth inning, Albert Pujols hit a 430-foot blast... for a double. The ball found the deepest part of a cavernous stadium -- a triangular-shaped cutout in centerfield -- and bounced off the wall near a marker that indicated 434 feet. Matt Holliday grounded to second to move Pujols along to third base and then Lance Berkman ripped ball into the right centerfield gap to drive home Pujols and give the Redbirds a one-run lead.
Lance Lynn entered the game in the ninth and got his first professional save. But it wasn't exactly easy.
Former Cardinals infielder Joe Thurston singled past Pujols to lead off and the Marlins gave up an out to sacrifice him over to second base. Lynn walked a batter to make it first and second with one out. Then he struck out a hitter to put the Birds one out from victory before letting another hitter slip away and walk to first to load the bases and put the winning run in scoring position with Mike Stanton at the dish.
Lynn was able to regather himself and he struck out Stanton to close out the game and give the Cardinals a victory they couldn't afford to cough up.
While the Cardinals didn't score a lot of runs Friday, they showed some encouraging signs at this critical part of the season.
All season, the Birds' three big sluggers haven't been able to all get hot at once. But on Friday the showed signs they might be coming together. Pujols had the impressive double that would have been a homer just about anywhere else in the majors. Lance Berkman was 2-for-4 with a double and a triple to show that he's apparently getting over the shoulder injury that hampered his swing and Matt Holliday hit an impressive opposite field homer to go 1-for-3 with a walk.
Rafael Furcal also had a two-hit night and narrowly missed hitting a homer and Skip Schumaker was 2-for-3.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Berkman
Cardinals Play of the Game: Pujols' monster double that led to the game-winning run.
Lowlight: The Birds really need to start scoring some more runs to take pressure off the pitching staff.