<
>

Cards' love affair with PNC Park persists

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Albert Pujols has compiled impressive
statistics in almost every place he's played. They're just a little
better in Pittsburgh.

Pujols went 5-for-5 with a home run and three RBI to lead the
Cardinals to an 8-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday
night.

It was Pujols' second career five-hit game, both coming at PNC
Park, where he is hitting .412 (47-for-114) with 12 home runs and
37 RBI since the park opened in 2001, his rookie season.

"I don't think about the park," Pujols said. "It doesn't
matter where it happens. Wherever we play, I try to do my best and
help our team win."

The Cardinals have at least 10 hits -- 13 Tuesday -- in each of
their last 14 visits to Pittsburgh, going 12-2. They are 20-6
overall in the Pirates new stadium. No visiting team has won more
games there.

Pujols is batting .524 in his past 11 games, with seven home
runs and 14 RBI.

"He hits every place against everybody," said Cardinals
manager Tony La Russa, whose team is 4-1 on its seven-game road
trip and leads the NL in road victories, with a 17-9 record.

The Cardinals overcame the loss of Scott Rolen, who was hit in
the batting helmet with a pitch by Ryan Vogelsong in the first
inning. Rolen remained in the game and scored in the Cardinals'
three-run first, but was ordered out of the game in the bottom
half. He was taken out for precautionary reasons and will be
reevaluated Wednesday.

Rolen, who had a bump on his forehead, was diagnosed with a mild
concussion.

"I've never been hit that hard," he said. "At that time of
the day, it's hard to see the ball. I never saw it. I had no chance
to even soften the blow."

Asked if he had a headache, Rolen said, "Yeah. When you get hit
with a 95-mph fastball in the head, a headache isn't out of the
question."

Rolen did not hold a grudge against Vogelsong.

"I'll tell you what, I'm a Vogelsong fan," Rolen said. "He
came out of the game and he called over to the clubhouse and asked
me if I was all right and apologized. That's first-class right
there."

La Russa, on the other hand, is not.

"Anytime you're in the major leagues, you throw the ball
inside, you have to get it below the shoulders," La Russa said.
"I mean, that's inexcusable. It just doesn't look real good when
(Rolen) hits a three-run homer (Monday), and I believe he hit a
three-run home run against that kid."

Rolen hit a three-run home run off Vogelsong, last Thursday in
St. Louis.

"He knows it wasn't intentional," Vogelsong said.

Cardinals starter Jeff Suppan (5-4) won for the second time in a
week against his former team. He allowed six hits and a run,
striking out four and walking two in seven-plus innings.

The Pirates dropped their third in a row after winning six of
eight. They are 9-16 at home. St. Louis scored three times in the
first against Vogelsong, who has allowed 20 first-inning runs in 10
starts. Opposing batters have hit .435 (20-for-46) in the first
against him.

Ray Lankford walked, Pujols singled and Vogelsong then hit
Rolen.

The Cardinals added two more runs in the second, the first on
consecutive, two-out doubles by Tony Womack and Lankford. Pujols
drove in Lankford with a sharp single to left.

Brian Boehringer relieved Vogelsong to begin the third.

Vogelsong (1-5) lost his fifth straight decision after winning
his first start of the season. He allowed five hits and five runs,
and struck out three.

Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said Vogelsong "as of right
now" will make his next scheduled start, although he acknowledged
that removing Vogelsong from the rotation is an option.

"I remain optimistic that this young man will get it
together," McClendon said. "My job is to make him better."

Pujols made it 7-0 with a two-run home run off Boehringer in the
fourth. Pujols lifted a 1-1 pitch over the left-field fence to tie
Steve Finley, who hit two for Arizona, for the major league lead
with 16. He tied career highs with three runs and two doubles.

Daryle Ward hit a solo home run off Suppan to lead off the
sixth. It was Ward's seventh home run in 19 games since he was
recalled from Triple-A Nashville.
^Notes:@ Pujols had five hits on May 23, 2003, at Pittsburgh. ...
Pirates catcher Jason Kendall extended his hitting streak to 18
games with a first-inning single. It's the longest current streak
in the majors and tied for the second-longest streak in the NL this
season. Arizona's Danny Bautista hit safely in 21 straight games.
... Rolen scored the 700th run of his career. ... Hector Luna made
two errors after replacing Rolen.