Cardinals-Cubs: Pujols Leads St. Louis Past Chicago With Speed

Derek CoffeltSenior Analyst IApril 25, 2009

Albert Pujols has accomplished much already in his career. Last night, he added yet another accolade to that long list.

For the first time in his career, he stole a base in his third consecutive game. That base, coupled with a 2-for-4 performance at the plate, helped the Cardinals sneak past the Chicago Cubs 4-3 on Friday.

He's long been regarded as "aggressive" on the base paths. Sometimes that results in great, heads-up ball playing but other times it results in being greedy and getting caught on the basepaths.

It's a fine line, especially when you're a six-foot-three-inch, 230-pound first baseman.

However, all-star slugger and fellow teammate Ryan Ludwick knows just how great of a "speed demon" he can be.

"He's just a smart player, a real smart player," said Ludwick. "Good base-runner. He does everything on the baseball field above-average."

His stolen base put him into scoring position and Ludwick drove him in on an RBI-single in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Once again, a heads-up play from an offense that is using everything in their arsenal to win. Whether it be by the long ball or small ball, the Cardinals have put together an impressive 12-5 record to lead the NL Central.

Pujols' single to get him on base along with Ludwick's go-ahead hit were against yet another premier set-up man, Carlos Marmol. This, just one day after battling against New York Mets' own set-up man J.J. Putz.

Talk about clutch hitting.

Pujols knew just how hard of a battle he was in for when Marmol came into the game.

"[Marmol] is the best setup man in the game right now and a future closer, pretty soon," said Pujols. "When you see a guy like that, that has really good success against everybody in the league, it's pretty tough to get three base hits in a row. You try to make anything happen, however you can. I started it, and then Ludwick got a big hit for us."

Once again the "gruesome twosome" came through in the late innings for the Redbirds.

Starter Adam Wainwright had one of his best outings of the year but was tagged with the no-decision after heading into the seventh inning with a three-run lead. Alas, he gave up a single and RBI double to the first two batters he faced.

After loading the bases, Skip Schumaker made a critical fielding error as Mets pinch-hitter Micah Hoffpauir hit a fly ball that bounced off of Schumaker's glove and went into left field.

Not his finest moment at second base, but he's only made two errors are year at his newly acquired position.

That error equated to New York's second run and after Ryan Theriot hit into a double play, the third run came across the plate to tie the game. Wainwright minimized the damage as he only gave up that one earned run while striking out six and only walking one batter.

Wainwright knew the potency of the lineup he was facing.

"That's more like it," said Wainwright. "They have a quality lineup on the other side, and I made my pitches most of the night and got them out. When you're working ahead in the count and getting strike one on everybody, then they have to be aggressive because they don't want to go 0-2. They have to swing the bat, so they swing at your pitches."

The bullpen came through yet again for St. Louis as the Cards' bullpen worked two fine innings. Kyle McClellan allowed a lead-off double but escaped without permitting a run in the eighth. Ryan Franklin walked one, but navigated the ninth for his fifth save in as many tries.

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