Pujols' homer helps Cards beat Marlins 7-4

MIAMI (AP) — Albert Pujols hit his 25th home run and finished a triple shy of the cycle, and six relievers combined to pitch six innings Thursday night and help the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Florida Marlins 7-4.

Pujols came into the game only 1-for-14 on the Cardinals’ trip. He walked and scored in the first inning, singled and scored in the third, homered in the fourth and doubled in the sixth. The first baseman also made a lunging backhanded stop to start a 3-6-3 double play.

The Cardinals’ David Freese earned a tough go-ahead RBI when he was hit in the helmet by a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded in the third inning. That put the Cardinals ahead to stay 4-3. Freese left the game with a mild concussion and a bruise.

Marlins second baseman Omar Infante broke his right middle finger diving for a grounder in the third.

St. Louis’ Kyle Lohse left after three innings — his shortest outing this season — even though his teammates gave him a 7-3 lead. He allowed seven hits, walked three and threw 74 pitches.

The Marlins had 14 hits, including five doubles, but they stranded 12 runners and hit into two double plays.

Kyle McClellan (9-6) replaced Lohse and pitched three scoreless innings. Lance Lynn struck out the side in the seventh.

Fernando Salas came on to retire Gaby Sanchez on a flyout with the bases loaded to end the eighth, then pitched a perfect ninth for his 20th save in 23 chances.

Matt Holliday hit his 17th home run for St. Louis, while Skip Schumaker had three hits, including a two-run double.

Clay Hensley (1-4), making his fourth start since joining the rotation from the bullpen, lasted 2 1/3 innings and allowed six runs. His ERA rose from 3.09 to 4.46.

The Marlins’ odd home-road disparity continued. They are 24-33 at home and 31-23 on the road.

Each team scored three runs in the first inning. Hensley walked consecutive batters before Holliday homered. Florida pulled even with four hits in the bottom of the inning, including an RBI double by Infante and a two-run double by Logan Morrison.

Hensley hit Holliday and Freese with breaking balls in the third. The pitch to Freese was Hensley’s last, and Schumaker then hit a two-run double to put the Cardinals up 6-3.

Infante was hurt when Schumaker’s grounder deflected off his right hand before rolling into right field.

Notes: Florida’s Wes Helms played 2B for only the second time in his career when he replaced Infante. ... RHP Jake Westbrook, who starts tonight for the Cardinals, is 7-2 in night games this year. ... Florida RHP Anibal Sanchez will seek to snap a career-long slump of nine starts without a win tonight. ... Hensley had not hit a batter previously this year. ... The stadium hosted its third sport in as many nights. The Dolphins practiced there Tuesday, and an international soccer game was played there Wednesday.

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