Pujols hits 5th HR in last 5 games as Cards tag Verlander, Tigers

ST. LOUIS -- After Adam Wainwright escaped a first-inning mess, the St. Louis Cardinals made Justin Verlander pay.

Albert Pujols hit his fifth home run in five games -- and the longest homer at Busch Stadium this season -- to lead a 14-hit barrage. Wainwright righted himself to work seven strong innings in an 11-2 rout over the Tigers and their ace Tuesday night.

"You can't figure this game at all," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "We haven't been scoring in bunches."

Pujols drew his major league-leading 19th and 20th intentional walks in only semi-threatening situations before lining his 23rd homer an estimated 446 feet over the left field wall off Ryan Perry to start the sixth. Chris Duncan followed with a 418-foot shot that gave the light-hitting Cardinals back-to-back homers for the first time all season.

Verlander (7-3) lasted four innings in the Tigers' first game in St. Louis since losing the clinching Game 5 of the 2006 World Series. Wainwright got the final out as the stand-in closer.

"Always good memories," Wainwright said. "I like to think of things like that. I can't think of it enough."

Verlander had been 7-0 with a 1.10 ERA over nine starts before running into trouble against a team that had scored three or fewer runs in 10 of its previous 15 games. It was 80 degrees at game time, not at all oppressive in a city known for its brutal summers, but Verlander said the humidity sapped him.

"I think after the first inning, I was just gassed," Verlander said. "I couldn't get my legs underneath me. It was a weird feeling."

The Cardinals scored four in the first, including Yadier Molina's two-out bases-loaded single, and piled on against relievers Nate Robertson and Perry. Verlander gave up five runs and eight hits for his first loss since April 17 at Seattle, dropping him to 8-1 with a 2.80 ERA in 11 career interleague starts.

Molina went with the pitch on an opposite-field single to right. La Russa called it the key at-bat of the game.

Brandon Inge and Miguel Cabrera homered after the game was out of hand for the Tigers, who have lost four of five. Detroit had won five of six interleague games against the Cardinals, all at home, before Tuesday.

Pujols has been the lone threat for St. Louis and is the only player in the majors with intentional walks in double figures. Duncan, who entered with a .182 average in the cleanup slot, also singled and scored twice.

Wainwright (7-4) allowed a run and six hits in only his second regular-season appearance against the Tigers, and first since striking out Inge to end the '06 Series. His toughest inning was the first when he got Inge on a pop fly with the bases loaded for the third out, and he later retired 10 of 11 hitters.

"For whatever reason, at no point at time did I feel like they were going to score," Wainwright said. "I was very confident I was going to make pitches and get out of it, and it turned out good."

Don Kelly led off with a triple when rookie center fielder Colby Rasmus mistimed a diving attempt on a ball that he said hooked on him.

"I thought I had it," Rasmus said. "I thanked Adam after the game for getting me out of that."

Molina had been 0 for 6 with the bases loaded before his hit in the first. Verlander's first balk of the season forced in a run and Joe Thurston added an RBI double.

The Tigers caught two runners napping on the basepaths in the third. Ankiel was out on an aborted steal attempt in a rundown between second and third and Molina, who advanced to second on that play, was picked off for the third out.

Game notes
Pujols' homer, which seemed to disappear over the left field wall, was 4 feet short of the longest homer at 4-year-old Busch Stadium, a shot by Ryan Ludwick estimated at 450 feet on July 22, 2008 against the Brewers. ... Verlander was the first Tigers pitcher to win at least seven in a row since Doyle Alexander won eight straight with an 0.96 ERA in 1987. ... Pujols' next run will be the 1,000th of his career.