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St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, left, talks with Houston Astros catcher Brad Ausmus about the heated exchange Pujols had with Astros' Brandon Backe near the end of batting practice before a baseball game Wednesday, April 9, 2008, in Houston.

St. Louis' Albert Pujols and Houston's Brandon Backe had a heated exchange as the Astros left the field after batting practice on Wednesday.

The exchange, which happened in front of Astros manager Cecil Cooper, lasted a few minutes. It involved yelling and ended with Cooper putting his arm across Backe and guiding him away from Pujols.

The incident apparently revolved around Pujols sliding into Astros catcher J.R. Towles in the eighth inning of the Cardinals' 5-3 win over the Astros on Tuesday. Towles said Pujols called the clubhouse after the game last night to apologize for the way he slid into home plate.

I will tell you one thing. Brandon Backe has apparently lost his mind. Backe, you are a decent sized dude, but let me tell you, you would of stood NO chance against Pujols.. who is 4 inches taller than you and weighs 45 more pounds. That would be like me fighting my 4 year old brother. So, BACKe, I suggest you BACK off.

Albert Pujols did homer in the first game of the season, but that clout was annulled when the game was rained out and didn't go five innings. So he officially had gone a career-high eight games without a homer at the start of a season before Wednesday's series-deciding game in Houston.

Pujols hit his first and second homers of the season Wednesday as the Cardinals took over first place in the National League Central.

Pujols, who got on base four times and drove in three runs with three hits, said, "I made a couple of adjustments and looked at some video. I'm glad I got it out of the way.

A young Cardinals team that wasn't given much chance at the start of the season is tied for the best record in the league. Pujols said the veterans are following the lead of the younger players.

Cardinals 6, Astros 4:   The Cardinals scored their third consecutive series victory and closer Jason Isringhausen capped another standout night by the bullpen by posting his fifth save in five opportunities. Right-handers Kyle McClellan, Ryan Franklin and Isringhausen and lefty Randy Flores allowed only one run over the final 3 1/3 innings.

Notes

• A run-scoring single in the first inning by 1B Albert Pujols was his first hit in five at-bats with men in scoring position this season. He has had nine walks.

• C Yadier Molina singled to extend his hitting streak to seven games-all the games in which he has played.

• RF Skip Schumaker, admittedly pressing when he started the season 0-for-16, apparently has relaxed now. As the leadoff man, Schumaker reached base four times Wednesday, including three hits.

• Although RHP Braden Looper, the starter, had trouble finishing off some hitters in the fifth and sixth, he navigated 5 2/3 innings, giving up three runs. The Cardinals' earned run average by the starters rose to just 1.95 for the first nine games.

 Looper, known for his sinker, hasn't allowed a home run to the Astros in 72 1/3 innings in his career.

By The Numbers:   300 ---- Career doubles for 1B Albert Pujols after hitting one on April 4.

 

- Jay (StLDieHard)
WE believe

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