Pujols homers again for Cards

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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols tied a major-league record with a home run in his fourth consecutive at-bat, Jason Marquis pitched eight innings of three-hit ball and the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1.

A day after hitting three homers, including a gamer-winner, Pujols homered to center off Pirates starter Paul Maholm (0-2) in the top of the first to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.

Pujols doubled in his next at-bat in the third and walked his next time up before flying out to left in the seventh.

It was the 35th time in Major League history that a player has homered in four straight at-bats. Carlos Delgado, then with the Toronto Blue Jays, last did it Sept. 25, 2003. The previous time it was accomplished in the National League was by the Atlanta Braves’ Andruw Jones from Sept.7-10, 2002.

Pujols joins Stan Musial (July 7-8, 1962) as the lone Cardinals player to do so.

Jason Isringhausen allowed a lead-off double to Jack Wilson in the ninth before retiring the middle of the Pittsburgh lineup – Jason Bay, Jeromy Burnitz and Craig Wilson – for his fourth save.

The Cardinals have won three straight.

Marquis (3-0) had allowed only one hit and two baserunners through seven innings before the Pirates scored their only run in the eighth when pinch-hitter Nate McLouth singled in Jose Castillo, who had doubled.

Pittsburgh’s only other hit Chris Duffy’s slow dribbler past Marquis that the speedy outfielder beat out for a single.

Marquis retired 14 in a row in one stretch. The only other baserunner for Pittsburgh against Marquis was Bay, who drew a two-out walk in the first.

Marquis, who struck out only two, has won each of his three starts this season.

Maholm entered the game with a 7.71 ERA but had his best start of the young season, permitting only two runs on seven hits in six innings.

NOTES: The Cardinals’ John Rodriguez was a late scratch from the lineup due to an allergic reaction to something he ate, team officials said. Skip Schumaker replaced him in left field. … St. Louis is 31-10 lifetime at PNC Park and has the most wins of any visiting club here. … Pujols has 17 home runs in this stadium, more than any visiting player.

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