Braves-Cardinals: St. Louis Wins Series With Team Contribution

Derek CoffeltSenior Analyst IAugust 24, 2008

In a game where Albert Pujols got into a virtual tie with Chipper Jones for the NL Batting Title race, the Cardinals once again put up the numbers.

St. Louis defeated Atlanta 6-3 on Sunday in a great all-around team effort.

Things started off like they have all series long for the Redbirds as "El Hombre" crushed a pitch that was shot straight out of a cannon for two runs. Pujols followed up the home run with a nice toss of the bat that put a smile on this Cardinals faithful.

Chipper Jones entered the series with a 12-point lead in batting average over Pujols. As the day drew to a close, he found himself in a tie for the NL Batting crown. Pujols finds himself on the cusp of winning his second NL MVP as he continues to swing a hot bat in the summer heat.

The favor has to be put into Albert's favor, as the Braves are playing for nothing and the Cardinals are fighting hard for a Wild Card birth. Add to the fact that Chipper seems to land on the disabled list every five minutes, it gives more incentive towards Pujols.

The final push for Pujols is that he is simply batting in a better lineup. Joe Mather, Skip Schumaker, Ryan Ludwick, and Troy Glaus are going to draw more walks in front and behind the slugger and there is no more Mark Teixeira to protect Chipper.

The Cardinals' motive had been to score early and score often, and they did not fail.

The top of the order for the Cardinals did the damage as Caesar Izturis, Joe Mather, and Albert Pujols went a combined 5-for-9 with four RBI. Crucial for any offensive-minded team, the 1-2-3 hitters have to be able to produce.

The Redbirds offense was good, but could have been better.

One glaring weakness was Ryan Ludwick and Troy Glaus. The sluggers went for a combined 0-for-10 with two strikeouts and showed less effort than Manny Ramirez in Boston.

Despite a couple of the Cardinals sluggers struggling, the pitching was superb.

The game's starter Braden Looper continued to be an innings eater as he pitched his sixth straight game by going seven strong with five strikeouts and only allowing three earned.

The bullpen held down the Braves with Russ Springer and Ron Villone helping to nail the door shut. Adam Wainwright's future might be in the rotation as Chris Perez was more lights out than Mariano Rivera in the clutch.

Watching him pitch a 97 mph fastball to Jeff Francoeur that nearly took his head off was gratifying to say the least. The young fireballer earned his fifth save.

An all-around great win for St. Louis but praise has be put in check as it came at the hands of one of the worst teams in the NL. Two crucial series come up for the Redbirds as they face Milwaukee for a quick two-game set and the Cubs come to Busch in early September.