<
>

Pujols' league-leading 16th helps Cards snap losing skid

MIAMI (AP) -- Some of the lights went out Friday night at Dolphin
Stadium, forcing a delay in the fourth inning of the Florida
Marlins' game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The power outage didn't last long -- not with Albert Pujols
around.

Pujols hit his 16th home run to spark a seven-run fifth inning,
and the Cardinals beat Florida 7-2 to snap a four-game losing
streak, their longest since the 2004 World Series.

Playing in his team's 30th game, Pujols tied Cy Williams of the
1923 Philadelphia Phillies for the fewest games needed to reach 16
homers.

Imagine Pujols' pace if he was healthy. He sat out Tuesday's
game because of a stiff back, and fouled a ball off his left ankle
Thursday.

"I feel a little sore," he said. "There are some things I
can't do playing defense. Hopefully it's getting better. I've
played hurt before. I've just got to play smart and not push it."

Jeff Suppan (3-2) won his third consecutive start, allowing five
hits and two runs in 8 1-3 innings. After St. Louis gave him a
lead, he retired 10 in a row.

"He was a master," manager Tony La Russa said. "He made so
many great pitches."

The Cardinals, who matched a franchise record for April
victories with 17, had been winless in May. They snapped an even
longer streak: 13 consecutive losses on Cinco de Mayo since winning
on May 5, 1992.

"I was unaware of that. Thirteen? Wow," Suppan said, tongue in
cheek. "I'm happy to be a part of this."

The game was halted for 18 minutes in the fourth inning when the
lights malfunctioned. Unfortunately for the Marlins, power was
restored, and they lost their eighth home game in a row.

Sergio Mitre (1-4) shut out the Cardinals for four innings, but
retired only one more batter while giving up all seven runs in the
fifth.

"A terrible job," said Mitre, who lost his fourth consecutive
decision. "One inning will kill you."

David Eckstein walked and John Rodriguez singled to start the
fifth, and Pujols hit the first pitch into the right-field stands
to break a scoreless tie.

"It's exciting when they have to come in to him," Suppan said.
"Watching him is so impressive."

The Marlins unraveled from there. Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen
singled, and both advanced on an error by center fielder Reggie
Abercrombie. Following a groundout, Gary Bennett hit a two-run
single through the drawn-in infield.

Aaron Miles reached on a bunt single, and an errant throw by
catcher Matt Treanor put runners at second and third. Suppan
singled home a run, prompting boos from the crowd of 13,266, and
Eckstein's sacrifice fly put the Cardinals ahead 7-0.

"That inning everyone got involved," La Russa said.

Florida scored in the eighth when Hanley Ramirez tripled and
came home on Dan Uggla's groundout. In the ninth, La Russa gave
Suppan a shot at his first complete game since 2003, but the
right-hander came out after giving up a walk and a single. Alfredo
Amezaga drove in a run with a pinch-hit single off John Hancock.

The Cardinals finished with 11 hits. They had totaled only 10
runs in the first four games of the trip, all losses.

Edmonds went 2-for-3 to hike his average to .220. Henry
Rodriguez also had two hits in five at-bats, but his average fell
to .429.

Pujols went 2-for-3 and is at .326. He set a big league record
for homers in April with 14 and still leads the majors.

"You can say he's so hot right now, but he's always like
this," Girardi said. "That's who he is."

Actually, Pujols was in a 1-for-12 slump this week before he
singled in the third.

Game notes
Before Pujols hit No. 16, the Cardinals' past eight home
runs had been solo homers. ... Suppan improved his career record to
97-96. Over the past three starts, he has given up four earned runs
in 21 1-3 innings. ... The outing was Suppan's longest since June
24, 2005, when he pitched 8 1-3 innings against Pittsburgh in an
8-1 win.