Slumping Pujols tags two homers as Cardinals put away Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Chris Carpenter would never suggest his St. Louis teammates owed him after they failed to secure a win for him last Monday when he took a perfect game into the seventh inning.

Albert Pujols and the Cardinals still felt bad about it, and they made amends with a late-inning outburst against the San Francisco Giants and hard-luck lefty Barry Zito, who probably can't remember what it's like to pitch with run support.

Pujols burst out of his power slump with two homers, and Chris Duncan drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out double off Zito in the seventh inning of the Cardinals' 6-2 victory Saturday night.

Skip Schumaker's double drove home the tying run earlier in the seventh for the Cardinals, who scored five runs in the final three frames to make sure Carpenter's first earned runs allowed this season wouldn't keep them from their eighth victory in 11 games.

"When you have a guy like Carp going out there every fifth start, always giving us a chance to win, our job is to score runs for him," said Pujols, who had just one homer in his previous 15 games. "When we're driving the ball, we can score runs from every part of the lineup."

Pujols hit solo shots in the fourth and ninth innings for his third multihomer game of the season. The defending NL MVP had driven in just six runs in those 15 games -- a bonafide drought by his formidable standards.

Carpenter (3-0), who pitched 23 innings in his first four starts without giving up an earned run, yielded Juan Uribe's RBI triple in the second inning. Carpenter also gave up Bengie Molina's run-scoring double in the third for the Giants, whose four-game winning streak ended.

Carpenter finished strong, allowing six hits with five strikeouts over six innings. The 2005 Cy Young Award winner appeared in just five games over the past two seasons, and he spent more than a month on the disabled list this spring -- but the right-hander has been nearly perfect when healthy.

"I was battling those first three innings, and then I definitely felt the last three I was getting the ball down," Carpenter said. "I was able to keep them off balance and stay in the game."

Carpenter's teammates kept his record spotless with a late rally against Zito (1-6), who took yet another tough loss when he couldn't hold a seventh-inning lead. Zito, who gave up 10 hits and two walks, has the best home ERA among the Giants' starters, but began the night with the worst average run support in the majors (2.09).

"If I keep scrapping ... [and] being aggressive, being in command, that's what it's all about," Zito said. "When you persevere with your approach, when you trust your approach, the game will end up in your favor in the long run. It's not happening that way this year, but I can't worry about the record. I have to stay focused."

Carpenter's scoreless streak -- he allowed an unearned run in his first start of the year -- ended at 21 1/3 innings when Fred Lewis doubled and scored on Uribe's triple. San Francisco went up 2-0 in the third inning on back-to-back doubles by Randy Winn and Molina, who leads the Giants with 31 RBIs.

Pinch-hitting rookie Nick Stavinoha kicked off St. Louis' seventh-inning rally with a one-out double, and Schumaker drove him home. Duncan then slipped a drive down the right field line, delighting the thousands of Cardinals fans at the Giants' waterfront ballpark.

"The two-out, two-strike pitch killed us," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He just got it up, and the guy got a hit. What are you going to do?"

Pinch-hitter Joe Thurston added an RBI triple in the eighth for the Cardinals, and Schumaker drove him home moments later.

Pujols connected off Zito for his 15th homer. He added a long shot to left in the ninth against reliever Justin Miller.

"He's a great hitter," Bochy said. "Z threw a good pitch, and Pujols hit it to the deepest part of the park. Later on, we made a mistake, and he made us pay for it. When you make a mistake to a great hitter, that's what happens."

Game notes
Giants CF Aaron Rowand extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a third-inning single. ... Carpenter fell just short of Bob Gibson's team record of five consecutive starts without allowing an earned run. ... Carpenter hadn't faced the Giants since Sept. 16, 2006. He has never lost to San Francisco in five starts.