ST. LOUIS — Madison Bumgarner would like another shot at pitching to Albert Pujols. The St. Louis Cardinals will have to play a lot better to make that happen.
The 21-year-old rookie pitched into the eighth inning, and the San Francisco Giants got home runs from Pablo Sandoval and Aubrey Huff, sending the Cardinals to their season-worst fifth straight loss with a 6-3 victory on Friday night. All of the losses have come at home for St. Louis, which is 39-23 at Busch Stadium and has scored two runs three times during the slump.
“It’s not just our offense, we need to play better,” Pujols said. “There are lot of different things that we aren’t doing the right way, and you can’t win like that.
“There’s no tomorrow, we need to win games.”
Pujols hit his 398th career homer for the Cardinals, who led the National League Central by a game after a dramatic sweep of the Reds on Aug. 11 but have dropped five of six since then and began the night 31⁄2 games behind Cincinnati. Pedro Feliz singled and scored twice and handled two chances at third base in his debut with St. Louis.
Pujols, who leads the NL with 32 homers, also lined a ball to the center field wall against Bumgarner in the third. Not that the rookie was overly impressed.
“You know what, I’m looking forward to facing him again,” Bumgarner said. “I’m not going to be afraid, not going to try to go around him. I’m going to go after him.”
The slump is getting to manager Tony La Russa, who complained about home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom’s calls in the ninth inning while Brian Wilson was finishing for his 35th save in 38 chances.
Buster Posey doubled twice with an RBI off Jake Westbrook (1-1) for the Giants, who have won two straight after dropping four of the previous five to stay in the thick of the wild card picture.
Bumgarner (5-4) struck out five with one walk and worked out of trouble twice. Felipe Lopez popped up with the bases loaded to end the second when the Cardinals scored once on four hits, and Matt Holliday grounded into a double play with two men on to end the fifth.
Bumgarner was only hurt by Brendan Ryan’s bases-loaded infield hit in the second and Pujols’ homer leading off the eighth, the last batter he faced. The left-hander had been 0-2 in his past four starts but has won all of his games on the road, and has showed better velocity lately after backing off the intensity playing catch between starts.
“My arm’s starting to feel better and better each time out,” Bumgarner said. “It’s helped me feel better each time out, the command’s been there and I haven’t been tired.”
Pujols also singled and walked and tied Dale Murphy for 49th place on the career list after his ninth homer in 16 games.
Westbrook, the last Cardinals pitcher to win, allowed three runs on seven hits in six innings. The right-hander was in trouble in four innings, stranding two runners in the first and fifth, giving up two runs on four hits in the second, and surrendering Sandoval’s 10th homer in the third.
The Giants had four hits in a stretch of five at-bats in the second, including Bumgarner’s second career RBI on a single he bounced up the middle and Posey’s RBI double.
Sandoval homered for the second straight game and fourth time in eight games, a stretch that followed a 47-game homerless drought. Huff had been 1 for 14 against the Cardinals before ending a 69 at-bat homer drought with his 21st in the seventh off Blake Hawksworth and reached base four times adding a single and two walks.
NOTES: Giants shortstop Juan Uribe was not in the lineup after fouling a ball off his left foot Thursday. X-rays taken before the game were negative and manager Bruce Bochy said he might return to the lineup as early as today.
... Giants pitchers have earned victories the past two starts after going 14 consecutive starts without one.
... Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum, who opposes the Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter tonight, has allowed 14 earned runs in 14 innings while losing three straight starts. It’s the first three-game losing streak for the pitcher who’s won the past two NL Cy Young awards.
... Westbrook fell to 20-10 in August, his best month for victories.
... Giants pitchers have earned victories the last two starts after going 14 consecutive starts without one.
... Paid attendance of 43,822 was the Cardinals’ 23rd sellout.