Cardinals complete four-game sweep of slumping Braves

ST. LOUIS -- David Freese waited so long for his first home run, St. Louis Cardinals pitchers were teasing him.

That business is out of the way after the rookie's six-RBI day fueled a 10-4 victory Thursday that sent the Atlanta Braves skidding to their ninth straight loss.

"I put my two cents in," Freese said. "Obviously, getting that first homer is always the toughest. I was just trying not to worry about it."

The Braves wrapped up an 0-7 trip, their first winless swing of seven or more games since September 1949 when the franchise was located in Boston and went 0-8 in Philadelphia and Brooklyn.

"I don't think I've ever been on one like this," manager Bobby Cox said. "Probably have, but it's not going to be in our memory, that's for sure.

"It was a lousy trip. It's been a horrible experience to endure," Cox said.

Adam Wainwright (4-1) worked six solid innings, keeping the ball down for the most part to mitigate high swirling winds, as the Cardinals completed a four-game sweep. With Albert Pujols getting his first day off, St. Louis still won its fifth in a row and swept Atlanta for the first time since 1993.

"It's like winning a doubleheader, right?" manager Tony La Russa said. "Albert gets his rest and it's a nice lineup we put out there."

Jair Jurrjens (0-3) strained his left hamstring and lasted only one inning for Atlanta, although he was hopeful he wouldn't miss a turn in the rotation. Jurrjens said the hamstring bothered him during warmups.

"I was cautious about it, I tried not to put so much pressure on it," Jurrjens said. "I tried to all-arm it and it wasn't working so well."

The Braves lost 10 straight in 2006 and can match that skid Friday night at home against Houston.

"It's probably the worst road trip ever," Eric Hinske said. "You can't blame it on anything. Maybe it's good we're doing this in April and not in September."

The Braves have totaled 17 runs during their slump. Rookie Jason Heyward returned after one game on the bench and had two hits, including the first homer allowed by Cardinals pitching in 10 games at home this season.

Wainwright, a first-round pick of the Braves in 2000, is 5-0 with a 2.00 ERA against Atlanta in eight games. Yadier Molina helped out with two hits and two RBIs and Colby Rasmus scored four times.

Freese's day was the biggest by a Cardinals rookie since at least 1957, when rookie qualifications were established, the Elias Sports Bureau said. Freese has eight RBIs the last two games, getting two RBIs Wednesday on his 27th birthday, and 14 on the season.

The Cardinals acquired Freese from the San Diego Padres for Jim Edmonds after 2007 and he won the third base job this spring.

Freese hit a three-run homer off the right-field foul pole with two outs in the first off Jurrjens, his first of the year and the first of his career at Busch Stadium. Freese added a three-run double off Jesse Chavez in the fifth.

"That's why I'm here, to drive in runs and score runs," Freese said. "They put me out there to do a job and that's what I've got to keep thinking."

The Cardinals scored in double figures for the first time since an 11-6 Opening Day victory at Cincinnati. They last swept Atlanta in a four-game series Aug. 14-16, 1989, including a doubleheader. The 1993 sweep was in a three-game set.

St. Louis' string of not allowing a homer at home was the majors' longest to start the season since the Chicago White Sox also did it the first nine games of 1972, according to Elias. Both streaks lasted 98 innings.

Jurrjens is 0-3 and has given up 17 earned runs in 19 innings in four day starts. He got two quick outs in the first but then hit Matt Holliday and gave up a single to Rasmus before Freese connected on a 1-1 pitch.

Freese had a six-RBI game last season for Triple-A Memphis.

Game notes
Heyward's homer was the Braves' first in nine games. ... Molina has 15 RBIs this month, matching his career best in 2007. ... Cardinals pitchers have allowed an NL-low 10 homers, and Heyward's homer was only the second off St. Louis in 151 innings. ... Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar strained a left groin muscle and was pulled for a pinch-hitter after making an off-balance throw to nip Joe Mather in the seventh. Escobar said through a translator that he might miss a few games.

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