"There's only a few hitters like him in the game," Barton said, after watching Pujols hit a three-run homer in the St. Louis Cardinals' 8-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Friday night. "His approach to the game is remarkable. I love watching him prepare, and I try to emulate some of what he does."
Barton, a rule 5 pick, doubled home two runs and threw out his first major league runner.
Turns out life is good hitting in front of Pujols.
"I love to run," Barton said. "It's my job to get on base and let him drive me in."
Leadoff hitter Skip Schumaker, who also threw out a runner at home, combined with Barton to reach base seven times in 10 plate appearances. Schumaker scored four times.
"You get guys on base, as tough as [Pujols] is, it's hard to give him four balls," Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa said. "You have to credit Skip and Brian."
Kyle Lohse logged another strong performance, surrendering his first two runs of the season, but pitched well enough to help the Cardinals win for the eighth time in 10 games.
Lohse gave up eight hits over 5 1/3 innings, with two strikeouts and a walk. He opened the season with 15 consecutive scoreless innings, a streak that ended when Rich Aurilia and Brian Bocock each drove in a run in the fourth.
"I had good stuff early but then I lost control of my fastball," Lohse said. "It started getting it up in the zone.
Pujols gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead with an RBI double in the third.
His third home run of the season, a no-doubter off Barry Zito that he admired for a few seconds before trotting around the bases, put the Cardinals ahead 4-2 in the fifth. Ray Durham's fielding error on Schumaker's grounder extended the inning for Pujols.
"I'm a guy that reacts in every single at-bat and if the pitch is in a location I'm looking for I'm going to swing it," Pujols said. "That's what I did against Zito."
Zito (0-3) gave up four runs -- only one earned -- on seven hits over six innings in his best start of the season. He walked one and struck out two as the Giants saw their three-game winning streak come to an end.
"Letting Pujols beat me obviously spoils anything about the game," Zito said. "The two hits he got off me to drive in runs were with two outs. I can't let that happen. He's too good a hitter. I need to get him to chase off the plate."
The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner, Zito has never gotten on track since signing a $126 million, seven-year contract with the Giants before last season. He hasn't won a game since beating the Los Angeles Dodgers last Sept. 30.
Not that he's gotten much help: The Giants had been shut out in his first two starts, a 5-0 loss on opening day to the Dodgers and a 7-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers last Sunday. San Francisco also gave up two unearned runs in that one.
"I thought he threw the ball well," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He had a couple of balls up to Pujols but overall it was a good effort."
Ryan Ludwick added a solo homer in the ninth.
Schumaker is 12-for-17 on the road trip. ... Barton is an aerospace engineering major and interned at Boeing in their satellite systems department. ... Injured Giants SS Omar Vizquel took part in pre-game warmups, including taking batting practice. ... Giants RHP Vinnie Chulk resumed his rehab assignment with Triple-A Fresno, retiring all four batters he faced.