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Depth, errors hurt Braves in 8-3 loss

POSTED: August 2, 2008 5:00 a.m.
The Associated Press/

St. Louis Cardinals' Joel Pineiro (35) is forced out by Atlanta Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar on a Cesar Izturis ground ball in the seventh inning Tuesday in Atlanta.

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ATLANTA Albert Pujols homered to tie the game and scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error before the St. Louis Cardinals broke it open with a five-run ninth, routing the short-handed Atlanta Braves 8-3 on Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a towering drive into the seats in center field leading off the sixth inning, tying the score at 2 with his 21st homer. He started the eighth with a double off Rafael Soriano (0-1). After Ryan Ludwick lined out, Pujols took off for third on a surprise stolen base attempt.

Corky Miller’s throw sailed into left field, allowing Pujols to score and give the win to Ryan Franklin (4-4). The Cardinals made it a laugher in the ninth off Mike Gonzalez, though only one of the five runs he surrendered in two-thirds of an inning was earned.

Just before the game, the Braves traded slugging first baseman Mark Teixeira to the Los Angeles Angels, essentially giving up on the idea of contending in the NL East this season.

The Cardinals, trying to stay with Chicago and Milwaukee in the Central, won their second straight after a stretch of six losses in seven games. The fading Braves have surrendered 42 runs during a four-game losing streak.

Teixeira took batting practice with Atlanta before the game, then got word he had been dealt to the Angels ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline.

General manager Frank Wren said his team was in no position to contend for the playoffs after learning that ace pitcher Tim Hudson could be done for the season, the latest in a devastating series of injuries.

Greg Norton, who came into the game hitting .215, took over at first base and filled Teixeira’s cleanup spot in the order. Omar Infante batted fifth in place of injured third baseman Chipper Jones. Figuring in Mark Kotsay, the 3-4-5 hitters came in with nine homers and 59 RBIs combined.

St. Louis jumped ahead in the second after the first two hitters struck out. Yadier Molina singled and came all the way around to score on Brendan Ryan’s double.

The Braves struck right back with two runs in the bottom half. Kelly Johnson doubled and scored on Jeff Francoeur’s single. Francoeur scored on Gregor Blanco’s two-out single to center.

But that was it for the Braves’ offense. They have struggled to hit in the clutch all season and had little chance of reversing that trend with a depleted lineup.

The best scoring chance came in the fifth. Kotsay got to third with one out on a throwing error, with Infante reaching first on the play. Infante broke for second while Johnson was striking out, but Molina wasn’t fooled by the ruse.

The catcher caught Kotsay trying to sneak in from third and threw behind him, snaring the runner in an inning-ending rundown.

Norton, taking over for the Gold Glove-winning Teixeira, made a crucial throwing error in the ninth that opened up things for the Cardinals. Gonzalez didn’t help matters with three walks, one to Troy Glaus with the bases loaded. Molina added a two-run single off Blaine Boyer.

Jorge Campillo went seven strong innings for the Braves, allowing seven hits and two runs. St. Louis starter Todd Wellemeyer lasted six innings, giving up two runs and eight hits.Notes: 1B Scott Thorman, who plays for Atlanta’s Triple-A team in Richmond, was placed on the temporarily inactive list after being named to the Canadian Olympic team that will play in Beijing. ... Atlanta RHP Jair Jurrjens was honored before the game as the NL rookie of the month for June.



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