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Pujols homers in third straight game as Cards sweep

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- When Albert Pujols is at the plate,
there is no such thing as wasting a pitch.


80 home runs? 200 RBI? The triple crown? Albert Pujols may or may not reach those "unreachable" levels, but he is certainly off to one of the greatest starts in baseball history.

Avg.
Runs
HR
RBI

Last 10 games

.324

15

6

16

Season

.317

45

22

54

Projected

.317

171

84

206

Albert Pujols is on pace to smash the single-season records for home runs and RBI, but he's hardly impressed by those numbers. The slugger explains why in this week's Sunday Conversation.ESPN Motion

Kansas City right-hander Scott Elarton learned the hard way
Sunday when his delivery to the extreme outer part of the plate was
driven by Pujols to the opposite field and into the Royals'
bullpen.

Pujols homered in his third straight game and the St. Louis
Cardinals beat Kansas City 10-3 on Sunday to complete a three-game
sweep and send the Royals to their ninth straight loss.

"He's an unbelievable hitter," Elarton said. "He's probably
the best hitter in the game right now. I wanted to waste a pitch
(with the count 1-2). I felt like I had a pitch to waste and he hit
it out of the ball park."

Kansas City (10-31) has the worst record in baseball and has
been swept nine times this season.

Pujols, who leads the majors with 22 home runs in St. Louis' 44
games, reached the homer mark in the second-fewest games in
baseball history. Bonds did it in 43 games in 2001.

"He's a once in a lifetime thing, not once in a lifetime, but
he compares to anybody who has ever played the game is a better way
to say it," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of his star first
baseman.

Pujols, who went to Fort Osage High School and Maple Woods
Junior College in Kansas City, also leads baseball with 54 RBI, 46
runs scored and 118 total bases. He already had a four-game homer
streak this season between April 15-18.

"It's not about me," Pujols said. "It's about the team. We
got three wins and that's what we want to do."

Next up for the Cardinals is a three-games series at San
Francisco, where Bonds is tied with Babe Ruth for second place with
714 career home runs.

"He's put up some great numbers in his career," Pujols said.
"He's the best player in baseball right now."

The Cardinals have won five straight for the first time since
July 10-18, 2005, and are a season-high 14 games over .500. They
have dominated their cross-state rivals in interleague play,
winning 10 of 11 from Kansas City.

Jeff Suppan, who pitched for Kansas City from 1998-2002, beat
the Royals for the first time in five career outings. Suppan (5-3)
yielded seven hits and two runs in six innings and improved to 3-1
in four May starts.

He also offered some advice on how to pitch to Pujols.

"Very carefully," Suppan said. "There are so many ways he can
beat you. He's the one guy when he comes up in big situations it
seems like he produces more times than not. He's continued to
improve. It's fun to be on this side of the uniform with him."

Chris Duncan, recalled from Triple-A Memphis on Sunday, and
Hector Luna homered in the fifth. Duncan hit a two-run shot to
center, and Luna connected for a solo homer off Elarton (0-5).

Elarton, who is winless in 10 starts, gave up five runs on five
hits, three of them home runs, in six innings. Elarton had retired
10 in a row before Pujols' home run.

"I can live with that," Elarton said. "The other two were bad
pitches."

Elarton is finding it difficult to live with the losses.

"You get mad," he said. "We're just terrible. There are no
two ways about it. We're pretty much bad in every facet of the
game."

The Royals stranded 11 runners and went 1-for-8 with runners in
scoring position.

"They had their chances," La Russa said. "We were all nervous
in the dugout. We prevailed, but there were some nervous moments."

The Cardinals batted around in a five-run seventh, which was
highlighted by Jim Edmonds' two-out, two-run single after Pujols
was walked intentionally to load the bases. Scott Spiezio had a
run-scoring single in the inning, and another scored on John
Rodriguez's RBI grounder. Larry Bigbie came home on a throwing
error by Royals reliever Andrew Sisco.

"Quite frankly, they've got a much better team than we have,"
Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "You make a mistake like that
(Sisco's error), we just can't cover it up."

Matt Stairs led off the Royals' fourth with a double and scored
on Paul Bako's two-out single. Aaron Guiel homered in the sixth for
the second Kansas City run. Angel Berroa's seventh-inning double
scored Stairs with the final Royals' run.

Game notes
The Royals' mark is the worst in franchise history after 41
games. ... The Cardinals are 24-6 in their past 30 interleague
games. ... St. Louis OF So Taguchi snapped an 0-for-11 skid with an
eighth-inning single.