Pujols, Cards club Reds, 10-5
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 17, 2004
ST. LOUIS - Albert Pujols is playing with a painful heel condition. Not that it's slowing the St. Louis Cardinals' star one bit.
Pujols homered for the fifth time in four games and tied his career high with five RBIs in a 10-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night. He has plantar fasciitis in his left heel, an injury more commonly associated with long distance running.
''It's bothering me, but when I'm out there and I cross that white line I'm ready to play,'' Pujols said. ''I don't care what kind of injury I have. If I have to push it, I'm going to push it because that's the way I am.''
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Pujols, 9-for-18 with 11 RBIs in the last four games for the Cardinals, also scored his NL-leading 100th and 101st runs. He has scored 100 or more runs in each of his first four major league seasons.
Pujols hit a two-run double in the first, doubled and scored on a close play in the seventh, and hit a three-run homer off John Riedling in the eighth. It's the second five-RBI game of the year and fifth of his career for Pujols, who also did it July 20 at Chicago.
Pujols met reporters after the game with his heel wrapped in ice.
''He is hurt, but he's a gamer,'' manager Tony La Russa said. ''He runs through the pain. When he doesn't have to run you see him back off.''
Scott Rolen drove in two runs for the Cardinals, giving him a National League-leading 104 RBIs. He had a run-scoring double in the third and an RBI single in the seventh, and has 24 RBIs in his last 26 games.
The Cardinals have won 16 of 20 and lead the NL Central by 14 games, their biggest advantage since they were 14 games in front on Sept. 3, 1968, when they won a pennant. La Russa doesn't want to hear it, though, guarding against a collapse.
''I don't read that part of the notes,'' La Russa said. ''I read the other parts that somebody sent me that talk about the '64 Phillies and the '78 Yankees and the '95 Angels and on and on and on.''
Pujols got the Cardinals started with a two-run double in the first off Aaron Harang (7-5). After a lead once as large as four runs was shaved to one in a two-run seventh, he keyed a two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh with a two-out double off the center-field wall against Todd Van Poppel.
Harang said there's no particular way to pitch Pujols.
''You just pray he rolls over something or gets underneath it and pops it up,'' Harang said. ''That's all you can do with him.''
Rolen followed with a run-scoring single and went to second on a throw to the plate, and scored on Edgar Renteria's bloop hit to right center to make it 6-3.