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Morris, Pujols boost Cards to 8-2 victory

Thursday, September 20, 2001

ST. LOUIS -- Chasing his 20th victory, Matt Morris came up with a little something extra.

Morris had a career-high 13 strikeouts to reach the milestone for the first time and Albert Pujols set an National League rookie RBI record as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-2 to complete a three-game sweep Wednesday.

"You just go make pitches, " Morris said. "This is the big leagues, man, you've got to make a pitch every time you throw the ball. Every mistake you make, these guys put the wood on it."

It was the 11th series sweep of the season for the Cardinals, who have won nine of 10. They entered the game with a one-game lead over the Giants in the wild-card standings and 4 1/2 behind Houston in the NL Central.

"Here we are, peaking at the right time," Morris said. "We've just got to keep it up."

The Brewers have lost five in a row, getting outscored 35-7 in the process.

"That's the way baseball is," outfielder Jeromy Burnitz said. "We haven't scored much all year for the most part. I don't know why that is."

Morris (20-7), who underwent elbow ligament transfer surgery two years ago, won his eighth straight decision. He allowed five hits and a run in seven innings to run his record at home to 14-2 with a 1.74 ERA. It was his third double-digit strikeout game this season.

In the fifth Morris struck out the side, and he fanned Geoff Jenkins three times and Richie Sexson and Jesse Levis twice.

Morris spent all last season in the bullpen building strength, going 3-3 with four saves. He had to wait eight extra days for No. 20 after a two-hour rain delay washed out his first shot at the milestone after one inning.

"It's special, no matter what," Morris said. "It's unexpected, I think, for everybody, but this is a goal I've been shooting on."

Pujols drives in three

Pujols, 21, drove in three runs in his first two at-bats to give him an NL rookie-record 120 RBIs, breaking the mark of 119 set by Wally Berger in 1930 for the Boston Braves. Ted Williams set the major league record with 145 in 1939 for the Boston Red Sox.

"That's great," Pujols said. "But I need to give credit to the leadoff guy and the middle of the lineup. They're always on base and giving me a chance to drive runs in."

He had a run-scoring groundout in the first and a two-run double in the third off Jeff D'Amico (1-3), and was 6-for-11 with nine RBIs in the three-game series. Pujols, who leads the NL with 180 hits, has at least one RBI in 11 of his last 15 games.

Milwaukee manager Davey Lopes compared Pujols' season to Fred Lynn, who was rookie of the year and MVP for the Boston Red Sox in 1975.

"I don't know the numbers Lynn had in the American League," Lopes said. "That's probably the last time in my day and age that you remember a rookie coming in and dominating all phases of the game."

Paquette contributes

Craig Paquette, making his first start since Sept. 9, had a pair of RBI singles. Placido Polanco's RBI double in the first scored St. Louis' first run.

D'Amico made his third start since coming back from elbow surgery in July, and allowed five runs on six hits in four innings. He has surrendered 14 earned runs in 11 2-3 innings since his return.

Jose Hernandez homered in the fourth for Milwaukee. Burnitz added an RBI single in the eighth off Steve Kline, appearing in his NL-leading 81st game for the Cardinals.

Edgar Renteria had an RBI triple and scored on Mike Matheny's sacrifice fly in the eighth for St. Louis.

NOTES: Pujols became only the fourth Cardinals rookie to score 100 runs when he came in on Paquette's single in the third and made it 101 runs when he doubled and scored in the fifth. The last Cardinals rookie to do it was Vince Coleman with 107 runs in 1985. John Heidrick holds the team record with 109 runs in 1899. Pujols needs 18 total bases to tie Dick Allen's NL rookie record of 352 set in 1964 for the Phillies. ... Brewers 2B Mark Loretta was out of the lineup, a day after fouling a ball off his left knee Wednesday night. ... The Cardinals are 50-26 at home. They entered the game tied with the Giants for the best home record in the NL. ... They're 30-13 since July 31. ... Morris' 14-2 record at Busch matches John Tudor's team record set in 1985.

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