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News » Pujols makes Capps feel pain Cardinals 2, Pirates 1 Slugger gains measure of revenge after being drilled last month.

Pujols makes Capps feel pain Cardinals 2, Pirates 1 Slugger gains measure of revenge after being drilled last month.

Pujols makes Capps feel pain Cardinals 2, Pirates 1 Slugger gains measure of revenge after being drilled last month. PITTSBURGH - The last time Albert Pujols encountered Pittsburgh reliever Matt Capps a month ago here, he was taking a 95 mph fastball off his left rib cage just after Skip Schumaker had hit a go-ahead homer off Capps.

Pujols, pinch-hitting in the 10th inning of a 1-1 game Saturday night, rarely requires revenge against anybody but, as he flipped his bat toward the Cardinals' dugout and his long drive to center continued over the wall for a game-winning homer, there had to be at least a morsel of redemption as he provided a 2-1 victory.

"No revenge," insisted Pujols. "What I tried to do was get on base, try to hit a line drive up the middle. I thank God they gave me the opportunity to come up with a big hit."

Manager Tony La Russa, who accused somebody from the Pirates' bench calling for Pujols to be hit the last time the teams were here, didn't exactly take Pujols at his word. "It's human nature," La Russa said. "He's hit intentionally and the next time he has a chance ... yeah.

"I don't know how it gets better than that. You remember (being hit). It's like a guy hits a big home run and the next time you strike him out, the pitcher remembers and he feels good when he wins the battle. That's the way it is. There's a lot of one-on-one stuff that happens here."

Pujols' major-league 44th homer of the season and second pinch-hit homer of his career capped off the strongest performance of rookie Mitchell Boggs' big-league life. Boggs worked a career-high seven innings, allowing just one run as he garnered 13 ground-ball outs. "He's got a much better arm than I've got," said Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals' 17-game winner.

But Boggs had to be that good to hang with overpowering Pittsburgh righthander Ross Ohlendorf, who fanned 11 Cardinals in eight innings, including becoming only the second Pirates pitcher in history to strike out the side on nine pitches when he did it in the seventh inning.

Boggs, something of a spot starter with Kyle Lohse on the disabled list until Sunday, was backed by something of a spot lineup as Cardinals regulars Pujols, Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, Brendan Ryan and Mark DeRosa (sore back) began the game on the bench.

The Cardinals' triumph held their lead over the Chicago Cubs at 11? games in the National League Central Division and pushed the Pirates' losing streak to nine. The Cardinals now have gone 12 straight series (11-0-1) without losing one.

On Sunday, the Cardinals have a chance to be party to history because if they win, it will ensure the Pirates of their 17th straight losing season, which would be a big-league record.

La Russa, scanning his bench in the 10th, said he chose Pujols because, "I was looking for a leadoff-type hitter - a guy with a .500 (actually .444) on-base percentage."

Pujols said he had been preparing for a pinch-hit appearance from about the fifth inning on. "I've been with Tony for nine years and I know he's going to use me somehow in the game," Pujols said. "I wanted to make sure he didn't catch me by surprise."

After Capps had drilled him, Pujols had been in pain for several days. "He hit me right in the ribs," Pujols said. "Obviously that thing hurts. I prefer to get it somewhere in the legs or in my upper body. Listen, that was about a month ago. I don't even want to talk about that."

Boggs, working well again with veteran backup Jason LaRue, was scored on only in the fourth. "He's improving," said pitching coach Dave Duncan. "He's doing a lot of things better than he did a year ago."

But after the Pirates had scored their run, Cardinals left fielder Rick Ankiel made a sensational running catch in left-center of Steve Pearce's extra-base bid and doubled Lastings Milledge off second. "We haven't made a better play in the outfield this year than that one," La Russa said. "That's ... absolutely a game play."

Ankiel said, "When he first hit it, I thought I had no chance. I'm glad I stayed on my horse and kept going. It saved two runs. I go home semi-happy."

At bat, Ankiel was nothing for four with three strikeouts. "I'm glad I held up on my defense," he said.

Schumaker also turned in a couple of defensive gems at second base, including a glove-handed scoop to first to retire Delwyn Young in the eighth.

The only run the Cardinals scored before the 10th came via a balk first-base umpire Angel Hernandez called on Ohlendorf in the sixth and third baseman Andy LaRoche's fielding error.

The Pirates loaded the bases against veteran Trever Miller and rookie Blake Hawksworth in the ninth but shortstop Julio Lugo fielded Ronny Cedeno's bouncer over the second-base bag and, without breaking stride, touched second for the forceout. Hawksworth would gain his second big-league victory.

"He's really showed a lot of moxie," La Russa said. "He's been thrust into some key situations. He's had very little experience (but) he's really kept his cool."

Ryan Franklin danced around trouble in the 10th for his 37th save in 39 opportunities. The Cardinals chose to intentionally walk Garrett Jones, who had reached base in all four of his previous plate appearances, to face Milledge with runners at first and second and two out. Franklin froze Milledge for Strike 3.

Up next 12:35 p.m. Sunday at Pirates, FSM

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Added: September 7, 2009

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