Pujols goes 4-for-5 with 3 RBI to secure sweep of Dodgers

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Hitting in front of Albert Pujols has been the
perfect spot in the batting order for Chris Duncan.

The rookie had his second straight three-hit game, and scored
all three times on hits by Pujols, as the St. Louis Cardinals beat
up on All-Star starter Brad Penny in an 11-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.

"I pretty much know they're not going to walk me, so I just try
to be aggressive, and when they fall behind I usually get a pitch
to hit," Duncan said. "To be able to get some hits and have
Albert drive me in is a lot of fun."

Pujols was 4-for-5 with three RBI, Anthony Reyes worked five
solid innings and Yadier Molina had three hits and three RBI for
the Cardinals, who swept a four-game series from the Dodgers for
the first time since winning a pair of doubleheaders on July 7-8,

St. Louis has won seven in a row, the team's best streak since a
nine-game run in 2004. This, after a 9-16 June.

"We really had to grind through and make sure we stayed
together and not point fingers and keep our energy up, and we did a
good job of that," manager Tony La Russa said. "But this is more

Penny, who worked two innings for the National League in
Tuesday's All-Star Game and struck out the side in the first, gave
up six runs and 10 hits in five innings against the Cardinals.
Penny (10-3) was starting for the first time in 11 days, although
he got one out last Sunday in the final game before the break.

Penny refused to use the layoff or the 93-degree heat as

"I felt fine," he said. "Base hits impacted me."

Penny was looking forward to a rematch against the Cardinals on
Friday in Los Angeles.

"It wasn't Pujols that beat me, it was Duncan and that Molina
kid," Penny said. "Guys I needed to get out, I didn't get out."

Olmedo Saenz homered in the second for the Dodgers, who have
lost five of six. They lead the NL with a .280 average, but totaled
six runs in the series. Kenny Lofton had three hits and a steal.

"The road trip to hell, in more ways than one," manager Grady
Little said. "We felt like with one swing of the bat in a couple
of the games we had a chance to win, but that certainly was not the
case today."

Duncan and Pujols were a combined 6-for-6 in the first five
innings, Duncan scoring on Pujols' hits each time. Pujols had an
RBI double in the first, a run-scoring single in the third that put
the Cardinals ahead for good at 3-2, and an RBI double in the

Pujols has a six-game RBI streak, driving in nine runs in that
span. The four-hit game was his third of the season. He was
9-for-17 in the series with a pair of homers, including the
game-winner off Odalis Perez in the 14th inning on Thursday.

He added an infield hit against Perez in the seventh, making him
11-for-17 with five homers against the Dodgers reliever. Perez, who
accused the team of treating him like "trash" on Thursday, gave
up five runs in two innings and has a 7.19 ERA.

"We had plans if the game stayed the way it was at 6-2, that
Odalis would pitch for us the last two innings," Little said. "It
gets him on the mound a little bit more regularly, which is what he

Molina capped a three-run fifth with a two-run double, his
second of the game, for a 6-2 cushion. Scott Spiezio, Molina and So Taguchi each added an RBI against Perez in the seventh. John Rodriguez's pinch-hit, two-run homer an inning later closed the

Reyes (2-3) gave up two runs and seven hits, although he piled
up 92 pitches in five innings. He's worked five innings in each of
his last four starts and had been 0-3 in his last five appearances.

"I just need to find a way to start going deeper into
ballgames," Reyes said. "I need to stop using a lot of pitches
and try to work ahead in the counts."

Game notes
Dodgers INF Cesar Izturis left for Los Angeles after the
game for the birth of his second child on Monday. The team begins a
four-game series at Arizona on Monday and will play a man short for
a few days. ... Cardinals CF Jim Edmonds made a nice running catch
at the warning track to rob Andre Ethier of extra bases and perhaps
two RBI for the last out in the third. ... Dodgers 1B Nomar
Garciaparra, hitless in the last two games after a 22-game hitting
streak and 1-for-13 since the All-Star break, got a day off. ...
Cardinals LHP Randy Flores, who underwent an MRI exam on Friday for
elbow pain, threw in the bullpen and could be cleared to pitch on