Albert aims at 400, Wainwright eyes 18 tonight vs. Pittsburgh

By Aaron Kirn
April 20, 2010: St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright prior to the game between the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park in San Francisco CA. The Cardinals won the game 2-0.  Damon Tarver/Cal Sport Media.

After dropping five in a row, Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals (68-54, 27-31 away) are seeking their fourth-straight victory tonight against Paul Maholm the Pittsburg Pirates (41-84, 28-36 home).

St. Louis Cardinal fans were in panic mode when San Francisco came to town.  The Cards fell 4 1/2 games off pace in the NL Central and 3 GB in the Wild Card after losing game-one 6-3 Friday night. Then St. Louis’ offense came to life Saturday and Sunday vs. Giants starters Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito.  Each failed to make it through 5 1/3 innings, surrendering 4 and 5 runs respectively, to the Cards’ offense.  On Sunday, Cardinal fans witnessed a gem by Jamie Garcia.

July 28, 2010: Albert Pujols  of the St. Louis Cardinals against the New York Mets during a game at Citi Field in Flushing, NY. Tyler Kaufman/CSM.

St. Louis couldn’t have started their ten-game road trip off in a better fashion Monday night, when they jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first thanks to an Albert Pujols’ three-run HR (33, 399th career).

The Cards and Kyle Loshe, who picked up his second win of the season last night (5.1 IP, 6 H, 2ER), never looked back, pounding the Pirates 10-2.

Cincinnati was defeated 11-2 by San Francisco so the Cardinals creep closer in the NL Central standings, currently 2 1/2 back before Tuesday night’s play.  Wild Card leading Philadelphia also lost last night to Houston 3-2, so St. Louis is only one game behind the Philles.

If anyone in their right minds is still clamoring this is a “down year” for Albert Pujols then you are certainly not in your right mind.  Pujols was batting .295 on July 31, but Pujols’ month of August has quickly put those rumors to bed.  He’s batting .436 with 10 homers and 21 RBIs in his last 19 games.

Albert is making a run at the triple crown and a case for a third-straight NL MVP.  He’s first in HRs (33) and RBI (92), and third in BA (.319) only four points behind Joey Votto of Cincinnati and one behind Atlanta’s Martin Prado as of Tuesday.

Adam Wainwright (17-7, 2.06 ERA) looks to become the first 18-game winner in the Majors tonight.  Wainwright, who is currently tied in the NL in wins and has the lowest ERA in the NL, is making a strong case for this year’s NL Cy Young award.

Tonight, he faces Pittsburg’s Paul Maholm (7-12, 4.92 ERA).  Pittsburg has won just two games in their last ten, first pitch is 7:05 PM ET.

If you’re curious, Pujols is 16-27  with a .593 BA, a HR, and 6 RBIs in his career vs. Maholm.

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