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St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) - Albert Pujols, batting cleanup for the first time in nearly seven years, went 3-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored, helping the St. Louis Cardinals continue their recent dominance of theWashington Nationals with a 6-2 win in the first of two games at Busch Stadium.
Pujols also made a diving grab on a groundball to end the game in the ninth for the Cardinals, who have won 12 of their last 14 games against Washington. St. Louis, which came into this game having lost nine of 12, may have found the perfect solution to cure its slump, putting the two-time reigning NL MVP in the four-spot for the first time since May 30, 2003.
Colby Rasmus added two hits, two runs scored and an RBI, and David Freese hit a two-run triple in a four-run first inning for the Cards, who are 7-0 at home versus the Nats since the start of the 2008 season.
Kyle Lohse (1-3) finally got his elusive first win, allowing two runs -- one earned -- on six hits and a walk through six-plus frames.
Ian Desmond notched his second career four-hit game for the Nationals, who have lost four straight since winning five of six. Craig Stammen (1-2) allowed four runs, six hits and two walks while fanning four in six frames.
Stammen retired the first two St. Louis hitters in the opening inning, but the next five batters all reached base to help the Cards take a 4-0 lead.
Matt Holliday started the rally by walking, and Pujols followed with a single. Rasmus singled to plate Holliday, and Pujols and Rasmus scored on Freese's triple to right. Yadier Molina followed with an RBI single before Skip Schumaker's groundout ended the inning.
Washington stranded two runners in the second and didn't get another baserunner until the fifth, when it scored twice.
Adam Kennedy and Desmond led off the frame with back-to-back singles, and Roger Bernadina reached on an infield base hit. All three runners advanced, including Kennedy scoring, on a throwing error from Schumaker.
Two batters later, Desmond scored on Willie Harris' groundout for a 4-2 game.
The Nats had runners on second and third with one out in the seventh, but Mike Morse popped out while pinch-hitting for Stammen, and Adam Dunn struck out as a pinch-hitter to end the threat.
Kyle McClellan pitched a perfect eighth for the Cards to get to Ryan Franklin, who allowed runners to reach second and third with two outs before Pujols dove to grab Morse's groundball to first. Pujols was able to retire Morse to end the game.
Lohse was the final Cardinals starter to earn a win...Pujols came into the game with a .323 average, .406 on-base percentage, 51 homers and 211 RBI in 237 games out of the cleanup spot...Drew Storen made his major league debut for the Nationals in the seventh inning. The 10th overall pick of the 2009 MLB Draft, Storen was called up when the team designated pitcher Brian Bruney for assignment and retired two of the three batters he faced, including a strikeout of Holliday...The Nationals hadn't allowed a run in the first inning for the previous 12 games...Lohse had lost his previous five decisions...St. Louis is 6-0 on Monday this season and has won its last 12 games on Monday, dating back to 2009.