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Pujols' 18th HR lifts Suppan, Cards past Rockies

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Albert Pujols' first at-bat Wednesday was much like his final trip to the plate the previous night -- another home run against the Colorado Rockies.

Pujols hit his major league-leading 18th homer and Jeff Suppan won his fourth straight start, leading the St. Louis Cardinals to a 7-4 victory.

"He just keeps piling on the examples," manager Tony La Russa said. "That's what's so great about Albert, he does that and he just turns the page. That's Stan Musial stuff."

Juan Encarnacion also homered for the Cardinals, who took two of three from the NL West leaders and have won five of six overall.

Pujols, who hit a go-ahead three-run homer on Tuesday, followed John Rodriguez's first-inning single with a drive to left off Byung-Hyun Kim (1-1). Pujols also leads the majors with 43 RBI and the NL with 35 runs scored, and eight of his homers have given the Cardinals the lead.

"I'm being patient at the plate and just taking what they give me," Pujols said. "There's nothing secret."

Pujols reached 18 homers in 35 games, the second-fastest in major-league history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Cy Williams of the Philadelphia Phillies did it in 34 games in 1923.

Suppan (4-2) struck out seven and walked none, allowing three runs and six hits in five innings. After going 0-2 in his first three starts, he has lowered his ERA from 9.00 to 4.58.

"I thought it came down to our offense and the bullpen," Suppan said. "With this team, I was just trying to stay out of the big inning."

Jason Isringhausen got three straight outs for his 10th save in 12 chances.

Kim gave up seven runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings, the shortest of his three starts this season.

"His location had been his best friend but today it was his enemy," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said "His pitch to Pujols, in his defense, wasn't that bad of a pitch. The pitch to
Encarnacion was a bad pitch, it was a cement mixer that stayed in the middle of the plate."

Matt Holliday had an RBI single and tripled for the Rockies, going 7-for-12 in the series with three homers. He is 18-for-36 against the Cardinals in his career with five homers and seven RBI.

"Colorado has a great ballclub," Pujols said. "It's pretty exciting to see a club like that, the way they're playing."

The Rockies had won four straight before losing the last two in the series.

"When we made mistakes, we didn't panic over them," Hurdle said. "We're looking out the windshield, we're not looking out the rearview mirror."

Cory Sullivan's RBI single in the third cut the Cardinals' lead in half, but Pujols doubled in the bottom half and scored on Encarnacion's fifth homer for a 4-1 lead.

Gary Bennett's RBI double with two outs in the fifth chased Kim. Rodriguez added a sacrifice fly in the fourth and Aaron Miles, who was 3-for-4, had an RBI single off David Cortes in the fifth that made it 7-3.

Game notes
The Cardinals are 14-5 at new Busch Stadium, where every game has been a sellout. ... Rockies starters allowed two runs in 14 2/3 innings the first two games of the series. ... David Eckstein had three singles for his team-leading 14th multihit game. He also stole his third base in the sixth. ... Holliday is 3-for-4 against Suppan with two homers and three RBI. ... Encarnacion had a couple nice running catches in right, toppling into the seats after snaring Holliday's fly ball in foul territory to end the fifth. ... The Cardinals signed right-hander Will Cunnane to a contract with Triple-A Memphis, and he was scheduled to start on Wednesday night. Cunnane, 32, last pitched in the minors with the Braves in 2004 and had pitched in the Independent Atlantic League earlier this season.