Cardinals' New Lineup Pays Off Against Mariners

Ryan Ludwick drives in four; Albert Pujols reaches base five times. Matt Holliday shows off from the No. 2 spot. Box Score

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Game Note: Albert Pujols's Batting Average

Albert Pujols seems to have skipped hot and cold streaks since June—he just moves from high gear to low gear on a game-to-game basis. Last night marked the first game in four that Albert Pujols's batting average did not jump above or below .300. His 3-3 night brought it up to .309, the highest it's been since the Cardinals' disastrous swing west.

June 12 was the latest in a season Pujols's batting average has been below .300 since 2007, when it was .298 as late as June 27. In 2009 he didn't spend a single day below what I would prefer be called the Pujols Line. 

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Cardinals' New Lineup Pays Off Against Mariners

St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) – Ryan Ludwick hit a three-run homer and knocked in four, and Colby Rasmus added a two-run shot, as the St. Louis Cardinals earned a 9-3 win over the Seattle Mariners in the opener of a three- game interleague series at Busch Stadium.

Albert Pujols had a big game with three hits, two walks, an RBI and two runs scored for the Cardinals, who were coming off a 1-5 road trip that included stops in Los Angeles to play the Dodgers, and Arizona. St. Louis had lost six of seven coming into the contest.

Adam Wainwright (9-4) tossed seven-plus innings and improved to 6-0 at home this season. The right-hander yielded six hits, three runs, walked a batter and fanned six in his first career game against the Mariners.

Ichiro Suzuki went 2-for-4 with a solo homer, while Chone Figgins contributed a pair of hits, an RBI and scored a run for Seattle, which has dropped nine of its last 11.

Luke French (0-1), who was making his first start of the season after replacing an ineffective Ian Snell in the Mariners’ rotation, was touched for four runs on six hits and a pair of walks over four innings. The left-hander did not register a strikeout.

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Cardinals Trot Out Internet-Approved Lineup

After a solid month of Viva El Birdos wishing for it, the Cardinals open play tonight with Matt Holliday batting second. The full lineup:

1. Lopez, 2B
2. Holliday, LF
3. Pujols, 1B
4. Ludwick, RF
5. Freese, 3B
6. Rasmus, CF
7. Molina, C
8. Wainwright, P
9. Ryan, SS

Pitchers hit eighth!

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Cardinals, Mariners Begin Interleague Play

(Sports Network) - Adam Wainwright goes after win No. 9 when the St. Louis Cardinals return home this evening to face the Seattle Mariners in the opener of a three-game interleague set at Busch Stadium.

St. Louis managed just one win on its recently completed six-game trip and ended the trek with a heartbreaking 7-5 setback in Arizona on Sunday. After the Cardinals crossed the plate three times in the top of the ninth to even the contest, Kyle McClellan (0-2) gave it right back in the home half of the frame, surrendering a game-winning two-run homer to Chris Young.

Albert Pujols had three RBI for the Cardinals, who have dropped six of seven. Starting pitcher Chris Carpentergave up three runs on six hits over six innings, with the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner recording eight strikeouts but walking a season-high five batters.

"[The Diamondbacks] put good at-bats on me the whole game, fouling some tough pitches off," Carpenter said. "But I was able to continue to make pitches and keep my team in the game."

Nobody will welcome a return home more than Wainwright, who is 5-0 with a splendid 1.62 earned run average in five starts at Busch Stadium. He suffered the loss in his last trip to the hill Wednesday in Los Angeles, as theDodgers reached him for four runs and eight hits in six innings to drop him to 8-4 on the year to go along with a 2.30 ERA.

Wainwright has never faced the Mariners.

Seattle, meanwhile, salvaged the finale of their three-game set with the San Diego Padres and snapped a five-game losing streak on Sunday, as Felix Hernandez worked within one out of a complete game in lifting the Mariners to a 4-2 decision.

Jose Lopez and Ichiro Suzuki each had RBI doubles for Seattle in the final two innings, while Milton Bradleyhit a two-run homer to help back Hernandez (4-5), who struck out nine, walked one and allowed just four hits -- one a two-run inside-the-park homer off the bat of Tony Gwynn Jr.

"Four hits tells what kind of stuff he has," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said of Hernandez. "To be able to get deeper in the ball game, that's what's critical is when you have to get ahead of hitters. It was a tremendous game. He went out to win that game and he did in all facets of it."

David Aardsma secured the final out with a runner aboard to get his 13th save.

Tonight the M's will turn to left-hander Luke French, who replaces the ineffective Ian Snell in Seattle's rotation. French has made two relief appearances for the Mariners this year and pitched to a 6.35 ERA without recording a decision.

The 24-year-old was brilliant for Triple-A Tacoma this year, going 6-2 with a 1.93 ERA in 11 starts. However, he had a 6.38 ERA in seven starts for the Mariners last season.

St. Louis swept a three-game set from the Mariners the last time these teams squared off back in 2004.

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