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Cardinals' offense fails to launch vs. Bush
ST. LOUIS -- Albert Pujols seems to be hitting home runs off everybody these days, so Dave Bush had no reason to feel bad about serving up a long ball to the three-time NL MVP. The important thing was getting everyone else out.
Pujols' eighth homer in 14 games led off the fourth inning, the same inning in which four straight Diamondbacks connected off Bush six days earlier. But that was the only damage against Bush, who pitched six stingy innings to bounce back quickly in a 3-2 victory over the suddenly sliding St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday.
"You have to forget about it," Bush said. "Some good ones, some bad ones. But after a day or two, you've got to flush it and prepare for the next one."
Pujols led off the fourth with his 31st homer of the season and 397th of his career. The Cardinals managed only three more singles against Bush (6-10) and have lost three in a row at home to NL Central also-rans, including a pair of losses to the Cubs.
St. Louis is 10-5 against the division-leading Reds, but 15-17 against the Brewers, Cubs and Astros. The Cardinals still have one of the league's best home records at 39-21.
Cardinals third baseman Felipe Lopez, who committed two errors, blamed himself for this one.
"We lost the game because of me," Lopez said. "If I make those plays, we win."
Rookie reliever John Axford got five outs for his 18th save in 20 chances and sixth longer than an inning. He allowed one run with a wild pitch in the eighth before getting Matt Holliday to tap out with two on for the third out. Pujols drew his major league-leading 27th intentional walk before Holliday's groundout.
"It's a tough decision," Axford said. "It's really a pick-your-poison type thing, knowing I had to give it everything I've got and go right after Holliday."
Pujols passed Joe Carter for 50th on the career list, one behind Dale Murphy, and is 7 for 15 over the last four games.
But Pujols' last three homers, and five of the last eight, have been solo shots.
Cardinals rookie Jaime Garcia (10-6) got six days of rest for the second straight time and was hurt only in the third when Lopez's fielding error on a potential double-play ball opened the door for a three-run rally highlighted by Casey McGehee's 19th homer.