CHICAGO (AP) – Albert Pujols hit his 31st home run and Yadier Molina homered twice as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs 6-2 on Sunday night.
Pujols had four hits and took the National League lead in homers. Matt Holliday added three hits and John Jay homered, doubled and scored twice for St. Louis.
Jake Westbrook (10-7) held the Cubs to seven hits and two runs in seven innings, beating Chicago for the first time in three starts this season as the Cardinals salvaged the last game of a three-game series.
Jason Motte and Fernando Salas finished off the Cubs with two perfect innings.
Rodrigo Lopez (4-4) took the loss, allowing four homers and five runs in 5 1-3 innings.
Aramis Ramirez had two hits and drove in both Chicago’s runs.
The win halted the Cardinals’ recent backslide and they finished their road trip 2-4. St. Louis remained 8 1/2 games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central.
St. Louis broke on top in the second when Jay and Molina homered into the wind on consecutive pitches to almost the exact same spot in left field.
Jay and Molina teamed up again in the sixth. Jay drew a one-out walk and Molina homered to opposite field. It was Molina’s second career multi-homer game and his first since Aug. 16, 2007 at Milwaukee.
Molina has already surpassed his previous high with 11 homers on the season and his slugging percentage of .457 is nearly 80 points above his lifetime mark.
Pujols’ solo shot in the fifth was his 53rd career homer against the Cubs, the most he’s hit against any team. Pujols also singled three times for his fourth four-hit game of the season.
While he didn’t get in on the longball act, Holliday did single his last three times up, snapping an 0 for 13 skid.
The four homers matched a season high for St. Louis, which also hit a quartet on April 15.
Ramirez stayed hot with a double and run-scoring single. He’s hitting .487 (19 for 39) with four homers and 12 RBI in his last nine games.
Ramirez added a sacrifice fly in the fifth, cutting the Cardinals’ lead to 3-2, but it wasn’t enough on a night when Lopez couldn’t keep the ball in the park.
Notes: RHP Dillon Maples, the Cubs’ 14th-round pick in the most recent draft, made his first appearance at Wrigley Field since signing with the club last Tuesday. The Cubs signed Maples away from the University of North Carolina, where he was to play both baseball and football, for a $2.5 million signing bonus, the most ever given to a player taken after the third round. Cardinals SS Rafael Furcal was held out of the lineup for the second straight day after jamming his right thumb during batting practice on Saturday. 2B Ryan Theriot was left out of Sunday’s starting lineup because of hamstring tightness. Both players are listed as day-to-day. Cubs RHP Andrew Cashner will take the next step in his rehab process when he takes the mound for Double-A Tennessee on Tuesday. Cashner has been out with a strained right rotator cuff since his start for the Cubs on April 5, his only game action this season. The Cubs will start Ryan Dempster in the opener a four-game home series against Atlanta on Monday. Jair Jurrjens will pitch for the Braves. Dempster is just 2-11 in his career against the Braves. St. Louis returns home Monday for the first of three games against the Dodgers. The Cards will send Chris Carpenter to the mound against LA’s Nathan Eovaldi. Carpenter has won all six of his career decisions against the Dodgers.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.