Series: Game 3 of 4

St. Louis leads 2-1 (as of 4/29)

Game 1: Thursday, April 27
St. Louis6
Game 2: Friday, April 28
St. Louis3
Game 3: Saturday, April 29
St. Louis2
Game 4: Sunday, April 30
St. Louis9

Nationals 1

(8-16, 7-9 away)

Cardinals 2

(16-8, 11-4 home)

2:15 PM ET, April 29, 2006

Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri 

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WAS 000100000 1 8 1
STL 10000001 - 2 5 1

W: B. Looper (2-0)

L: J. Rauch (0-1)

S: J. Isringhausen (7)

Pujols (14) sets homer record for April in victory

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Leading off the eighth inning in a tie game, Albert Pujols was just trying to get something started.

Most HRs in April
14 -- Albert Pujols, Stl, 2006
13 -- Ken Griffey Jr., Sea, 1997
13 -- Luis Gonzalez, Ari, 2001
11 -- Willie Stargell, Pitt, 1971
11 -- Mike Schmidt, Phil, 1976
11 -- Gary Sheffield, Fla, 1996
11 -- Barry Bonds, SF, 1996
11 -- Vinny Castilla, Col, 1998
11 -- Larry Walker, Col, 2001

-- Associated Press

Instead, he made history.

Pujols set a major league record with his 14th homer in April, sending the St. Louis Cardinals to a 2-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Saturday.

St. Louis manager Tony La Russa appreciated the timing of Pujols' shot. After NL Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter and All-Star Livan Hernandez locked up in a pitchers' duel, Pujols broke a 1-all tie when he connected off Jon Rauch (0-1).

"It's always a thrill to see history," La Russa said. "But to see it in a game situation like that adds a little more to the story we're all going to tell some time."

Jason Isringhausen walked the bases loaded in the ninth before retiring Nick Johnson on a comebacker for the save.

Jose Guillen homered for the Nationals.

Pujols had been tied with Ken Griffey Jr. (1997) and Luis Gonzalez (2001) for the most home runs in April at 13. The St. Louis slugger greeted Rauch by driving a 2-1 pitch an estimated 411 feet into the Cardinals' right-field bullpen for his major league-leading 32nd RBI, matching the team record for April set by Mark McGwire in 1998.

"I made a bad pitch and he hit it," Rauch said. "That's what he does. ... It was a bad location. It came back over the plate, right in the zone where he can hit it."

Pujols said he isn't concerned with individual achievements.

"I don't play for records -- I play to win games," he said. "It definitely was good today to hit it and at the same time to win the game."

And he is ready to turn the calendar.

"We have another month after tomorrow," Pujols said. "Hopefully, we'll get 16 more wins."

Johnson finished 0-for-5, dropping his batting average to .352. Isringhausen earned his seventh save in nine opportunities.

"I think what's great about it is you got Johnson, who's having a great year and hit the ball hard all day long, and he just kept his composure," La Russa said. "In that situation, you make one good pitch and the game is over. But you can't get careless."

Braden Looper (2-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win. The Cardinals set a club record for victories in April with 16.

"I made it interesting," Isringhausen said, "but at least there's a zero on the board."

Pujols and the rest of the St. Louis hitters were stymied by Hernandez. He allowed just three hits and one unearned run in seven innings.

Carpenter gave up nine hits in seven innings but only one run. The right-hander, who struck out three and walked one, has allowed just four earned runs in his last 35 innings.

"I did what I had to do to keep our team in the game," Carpenter said.

The Cardinals broke on top 1-0 with an unearned run in the first. With one out, Juan Encarnacion singled up the middle and advanced to second when Guillen dropped Pujols' fly to right for an error. Encarnacion scored on a sacrifice fly by Scott Spiezio.

Guillen, who snapped an 0-for-14 skid with a single leading off the second, tied the score in the fourth with a homer to left.

Game notes

The Nationals franchise hasn't won a season series against St. Louis since 1999, when the Expos took five of nine meetings. ... Utilityman Damian Jackson was ejected with two outs in the third for arguing balls and strikes from the bench. ... RHP Zach Day, acquired on waivers Wednesday from Colorado, will start for the Nationals on Sunday. ... St. Louis' previous record of 15 wins in April was set last year. ... SS David Eckstein and Pujols are the only Cardinals to start every game. ... St. Louis RHP Jason Marquis was presented with his 2005 Silver Slugger Award before the game. ... Cardinals C Yadier Molina is hitless in the series (0-for-11).

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press