Albert Pujols insists he was not in a slump. The results are finally supporting him.


Albert Pujols insists he was not in a slump. The results are finally supporting him.

Pujols hit his first home run and drove in his first runs in 12 games as the St. Louis Cardinals avoided a sweep with an 8-3 win over the San Diego Padres on Thursday night.

Brendan Ryan tied a career high with four hits and rookie P.J. Walters won his first major league game with five shutout innings. But it was Pujols' play that had everyone's attention, except Pujols.

"I'm just putting a good swing on it," said Pujols, who finished with three RBIs. "It's the same swing I've been putting on it all year. Sooner or later they're going to fall."

When advised that some major league scouts following the Cardinals believe his swing in the three games against the Padres were a big improvement over the rest of the month, Pujols said: "That's why they're scouting and I'm playing."

But the numbers don't lie.

Pujols had not homered nor had an RBI since May 14 at Cincinnati. His batting average had dipped from .344 on May 1 to .303 coming into the series, but had three hits in the opener Tuesday. Pujols' 11-game streak without an RBI tied his career high, set during his rookie season of 2001. He had hit just one home run in 28 games since April 26 before he hammered a solo shot for his ninth home run.

And Pujols nearly had another line-drive homer.

"It's always good when Albert's hitting," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "But there's no doubt that he's going to hit."

The Cardinals' offensive outburst helped them avoid their first three-game sweep against San Diego in nearly 15 years.