Cardinals-Rockies: Albert Pujols Slides in for the Win

Derek CoffeltSenior Analyst IMay 6, 2008

One of the most feared hitters in the league proved Monday why he is so dangerous at the plate and on the bases.

Albert Pujols slid into home on a great base-running effort after Rick Ankiel was thrown out at first to beat the Rockies 6-5.  

This happened after Pujols made a great ninth inning double off All-Star closer Brian Fuentes. Ankiel's grounder wasn't the hardest hit ball, but it got the job done as Pujols would not be denied home plate. 

It was a very close play at the plate, but the former MVP thought on his feet and took off on a chance to put his team in position for the win. 

"I knew I had the [third base] bag pretty easy, I got a good jump," Pujols said. "I heard the sound of the bat and I looked back and I was already on third base. I saw the second baseman, and I kind of hesitated, but I saw him not even look at me and I just took off."

Albert Pujols is not known for his speed, and it even surprised the Rockies.

"You have to give him credit,'' Herrera said. "He took the chance and made it. He surprised everybody. I was thinking he wasn't going to go. I heard everybody yelling 'four' [to throw to home], but I already was making my angle to throw to first base.''

In a true competitor's performance, pitcher Joel Pineiro hit a two-run double in the fourth after a 10-pitch at-bat where he was hit in the forearm. He stayed in the game but was unable to do much after that and gave up the lead.

Pineiro may not have had his stuff on the pitching-end of things, but he made up for it with his offense.

"I was leaving balls in the middle of the plate, and they were doing what they're supposed to do with balls in the middle of the plate, hitting it hard," Pineiro said. "Even though my pitching wasn't so good today, something made up for it."

On a night where manager Tony LaRussa admitted that his bullpen was vulnerable, they sure proved him wrong.

Ron Villone and Mike Parisi, who made his major league debut, pitched a pair of scoreless innings to keep the game within reach. 

Parisi stumbled for a moment in the seventh inning where he put two on with two out, but he battled out of it unharmed.

"My heart started going a little bit, and I just had to tell myself to relax," said Parisi, who pitched a perfect sixth.

"I got a little bit jacked up, but I recovered and tried to just step back and make some pitches and get out of it. I put up a zero, and we got a win. It was great."

The real question mark came when closer Jason Isringhausen came in to try and shut it down for the Cardinals. Izzy benefited greatly from a fantastic defensive play from Cesar Izturis, who nabbed a hard-hit ball from Matt Holliday to throw him out.

Isringhausen got the save, and the bullpen proved their value once again by continuing to battle and never giving up.

After the game, Pujols showed why he is a former MVP and leader.

"My job is not to just come here and drive guys in or hit balls out of the park," Pujols summed up. "My job is to do whatever I can to help my team win. It's running the bases or playing defense or with the big hits, whatever I can do."

St. Louis is now 21-12 and two-and-a-half games in front of the Chicago Cubs for first place in the NL Central.