Albert Pujols reached the 2,000-hit milestone in the Cardinals 9-2 win over the Chicago Cubs on Friday.
After he started a three-run fourth inning with his 1,999th hit, he hit number 2,000 in the eighth. The ball was a hard hit shot down the left-field line that earned him a double.
Pujols' first hit of the night started the Cardinals' big fourth inning.
St. Louis was trailing the Chicago Cubs 1-0 when Pujols hit a double over the right fielder. Matt Holliday followed with hard-hit infield single.
Then David Freese cued fireworks over Busch Stadium with his sixth home run of the season, a 394-foot shot to centerfield that erased Chicago's early lead and left St. Louis up 3-1.
More run protection for Edwin Jackson's first start as a Cardinals pitcher came in the sixth inning.
Yadier Molina singled to left field to score Matt Holliday from third. With Schumaker reaching third and Molina getting to second, Chicago pitcher Matt Garza intentionally walked Daniel Descalso to load the bases.
The plan worked, and Edwin Jackson soon became the second out of the inning after an easily catchable fly ball into foul territory.
But then a Chicago pitching change brought James Russell to the mound and an offensive substitution brought Ryan Theriot to the plate.
Theriot's ground ball found its way into the outfield to score Schumaker and Molina, giving the Cardinals a 6-1 lead.
Jackson left the game after pitching seven innngs. He gave up one run on four hits. He walked two and struck out four.
Cubs take 1-0 lead
The Chicago Cubs scored one run in the second inning to take the game's first lead in an unconventional way.
With Chicago's Marlon Byrd at third base, Tyler Colvin hit a sacrifice fly to right field. Cardinals' Cory Patterson caught the ball and attempted to throw Byrd out at home. Byrd scored but catcher Yadier Molina cut the throw off and fired the ball to David Freese at third base. Freese tagged out Geovany Soto who had reached base earlier in the inning when Cardinals pitcher Edwin Jackson hit him with a pitch. It was a 9-2-5 double play.
Jackson struck out the next batter to end the inning.
Pujols two hits away from 2,000:
Albert Pujols enters this weekend's three-game series game against the Chicago Cubs just two hits away from reaching 2,000 for his career.
"Hopefully it happens this weekend so the fans can see it, enjoy it, appreciate it," manager Tony La Russa said.
Pujols looks to become the 263rd player in Major League history and the fifth St. Louis player to get all 2,000 hits as a Cardinal. The last St. Louis player to do the same was Lou Brock (2,713) on July 28, 1974.
When La Russa was asked if he had any doubts about Pujols reaching the 3,000-hit mark after he passes the 2,000-hit total, the manager shook his head.
"Nope," he said. "No doubts."
Pujols is batting .500 (12-24) against the Cubs this season.
Berkman available to pinch hit:
La Russa said Lance Berkman will be available to pinch hit tonight and that he is confident Berkman will play against the Cubs at some point in the series. Berkman strained a rotator cuff earlier this week.
Patterson leads off:
Corey Patterson will hit in the leadoff spot for the Cardinals tonight.
"He's seen (Chicago starting pitcher Matt) Garza and he's had some success," La Russa said. "He has the talent to be the (leadoff) hitter."
Patterson, who was traded to St. Louis from Toronto, singled on Thursday for his first hit as a Cardinal. He has batted .600 against Garza in his career.
Greene happy to be back:
Tyler Greene, who was added to the roster in place of an injured Nick Punto (strained oblique), was back in the Cardinals clubhouse before Friday's game against the Cubs.
Greene had been hitting above .300 at Class AAA, an improvement from the struggling bat he showed in St. Louis earlier this season.
"It was tough," Greene said. "I kind of lost some of that timing and rhythm in my swing."
Now that he is back, the infielder said he is hopes his hitting will transfer over.
"I believe I can be successful here," Green said. "It's been frustrating at times but I'm learning more and more as the years go on. I'm really looking forward this time to carrying over what I was doing down there and stay where I was at, at that mental state."
While in Memphis, Greene and fellow infielder Pete Kozma traded positions between shortstop and second base. Greene, more used to playing shortstop, said getting comfortable at second has taken some time.
"It's a clearly different angle and view from that side," he said. "It's completely backward over there. It's a learning curve but I'm making adjustments and getting as used to it as I can."
Punto put on disabled list:
Infielder Nick Punto hit the disabled list for the third time as a Cardinal when he was placed on the 15-day DL this afternoon with a strained left oblique muscle suffered in Thursday night's game.
"He's a tough guy to have out," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said before the game. "He does a lot of things for us."
Infielder Tyler Greene, who has been hitting above .300 at Class AAA Memphis, has been recalled to replace Punto on the roster and Greene is here for tonight's game at Busch Stadium with the Chicago Cubs.
The Cardinals' medical staff is reporting that catcher Tony Cruz, who suffered a bruised right hand on Thursday, is not hurt seriously, and, apparently neither is catcher Gerald Laird, who sustained a ring finger strain on his catching hand. Laird and Cruz will not be disabled.
Punto previously had been sidelined this spring by abdominal surgery and later a sore right throwing arm, which never really has come around.
1. Corey Patterson, RF
2. Jon Jay, CF
3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Matt Holliday, LF
5. David Freese, 3B
6. Skip Schumaker, 2B
7. Yadier Molina, C
8. Daniel Descalso, SS
9. Edwin Jackson, P
1. Starlin Castro, SS
2. Darwin Barney, 2B
3. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
4. Carlos Peña, 1B
5. Marlon Byrd, CF
6. Geovany Soto, C
7. Alfonso Soriano, LF
8. Tyler Colvin, RF
9. Matt Garza, P