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Cardinals defeat Rockies to take series

Albert Pujols hit a monstrous homer during a
four-run first inning, helping the Cardinals to a 6-2 victory over the Rockies
in the rubber match of a three-game series.

Yadier  Molina finished with three hits and two RBI for St. Louis, which got a
strong effort from several relievers to close its homestand with a victory and
a 3-3 mark.

Cardinals  starter  Edwin Jackson (2-1)  was pulled with  one out in the sixth
inning  because  of cramping  in his  right hamstring. He  allowed two runs on
eight hits and three walks, and departed the game with two runners on base.

However, Jason Motte got St. Louis out of the inning, and Octavio Dotel struck
out  two  to strand  the bases loaded  in the seventh.  Dotel faced five total
batters and struck out four of them.

Colorado  certainly  had opportunities, but  went just 1-for-8 with runners in
scoring  position and  stranded  nine on  base. Mark  Ellis  homered and  Troy
Tulowitzki hit an RBI single in the first inning, but the Rockies didn't score
again and lost their 17th consecutive Sunday game.

Judging  by  the top half  of the first inning,  it seemed like Colorado would
snap that streak.

Ellis  was the  second batter up and jumped on a first-pitch fastball, hitting
it  over the  left field wall for  a 1-0 lead. Carlos Gonzalez followed with a
ground-rule  double to  left and  scored on  Tulowitzki's base  hit, and  Todd
Helton kept the rally going with a walk.

After  Seth  Smith popped out,  Ty Wigginton walked  to end a nine-pitch plate
appearance, load the bases and prompt a coaching visit to the mound.

However,  Jackson  got out of the  jam by striking out Chris Iannetta. Despite
throwing  37 pitches and facing eight batters, he had allowed only two runs --
a deficit Pujols erased in the bottom half.

With  Rafael  Furcal on base and  one out, Pujols  got a 1-0 fastball near the
knees  and toward  the inside half of  the zone, and crushed it to left field.
The ball sailed over the seats and bounced around in the concourse.

"That's an Albert home run," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. "He hit
that ball on the line with the underspin, it wasn't one of those fly balls.
That ball was really struck perfectly.

Matt  Holliday  walked before consecutive  two-out doubles by David Freese and
Molina made it a 4-2 game.

Those  were  the only runs  given up by Rockies  starter Esmil Rogers (6-2) in
five innings, but they were enough.

Jackson  kept his  team in  the lead  thanks to  double-play grounders  in the
second,  third and  fourth innings.  But he  gave up  one-out singles  to Todd
Helton and Smith in the sixth, and left the game after throwing three balls to

However,  Motte  saved the inning for  St. Louis, getting Wigginton to fly out
and Iannetta to ground out.

The  Rockies had  another chance to score  in the seventh, putting two on base
with  one out  against Kyle McClellan. Veteran Arthur Rhodes was then summoned
from  the bullpen for his first appearance since the Cardinals signed him last
Thursday, and walked Gonzalez.

The walk loaded the bases for the heart of the Rockies' lineup. However, Dotel
fanned  Tulowitzki  before freezing Helton  on a third-strike breaking ball to
end the threat.

"It's kind of how it's been," Tulowitzki said. "We haven't gotten the big hit
when we need it. But I'd love to be up in that big situation. Sometimes you
come through, sometimes you don't."

It was a back-breaking failure for Colorado. Molina and Skip Schumaker singled
in  runs in the bottom half to push the Cardinals' lead to four, and Dotel and
Fernando Salas closed the game over the final two innings.

                                   Game Notes

Rockies  third  base coach  Rich Dauer  suffered a  broken nose during batting
practice, when he was hit by a throw from infielder Chris Nelson, according to
MLB.com.  He was  taken to a hospital  for tests and returned to the clubhouse
during  the game...Rogers  walked  seven,  gave up  six  hits  and struck  out
five...The Cardinals  went 3-for-7 with  RISP and stranded 10...Pujols' homer
was  his 29th  of the season...Colorado won  its first two Sunday games of the

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