St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols doubles in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Wednesday, April 28, 2010, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam) By Tom Gannam
Atlanta Braves first baseman Troy Glaus reacts to a called strike in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday, April 28, 2010, in St. Louis.(AP Photo/Tom Gannam) By Tom Gannam
St. Louis Cardinals' David Freese connects for a two-RBI single in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Wednesday, April 28, 2010, in St. Louis.(AP Photo/Tom Gannam) By Tom Gannam
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Rookie Jaime Garcia worked seven scoreless innings and David Freese had two hits and two RBIs to help the St. Louis Cardinals beat Atlanta 6-0 Wednesday night, handing the punchless Braves their eighth straight loss.
Albert Pujols and Colby Rasmus each had two hits and an RBI for the Cardinals, who have won four in a row and can sweep the Braves for the first time since 1993 in the finale of a four-game set Thursday, with Adam Wainwright coming off consecutive complete games. Jair Jurrjens will pitch for the Braves, who have mustered only 13 runs during their worst slump since losing 10 in a row in June 2006.
Most Atlanta hitters took early batting practice and manager Bobby Cox gave struggling rookie Jason Heyward, in a 1-for-20 tailspin, a day off. The top of the order, Yunel Escobar, Martin Prado and Chipper Jones, was 0 for 8 with a walk against Garcia (2-1).
Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami (0-4) allowed two runs on wild pitches and gave up four earned runs in 4 1-3 innings, the shortest of his four starts. He issued three of Atlanta's four intentional walks, with the Cardinals' 3-4-5-6 hitters ending up with one apiece.
Garcia, the Cardinals' first lefty starter to win a game since Mark Mulder in 2006, allowed four singles and struck out five while lowering his ERA to 1.04. He hasn't allowed a run in 14 innings at home, also working seven scoreless innings in a 2-1, 20-inning loss to the Mets on April 17.
Garcia benefited from not facing an ace for the first time, after opposing Yovani Gallardo, Johan Santana and Tim Lincecum in his first three starts.
Pujols had an RBI single in the first, and doubled and scored in a three-run fifth that included two intentional walks and put the Cardinals ahead 6-0. Rasmus' RBI double in the fifth off Jonny Venters was his first hit in 13 at-bats off left-handers and Freese's two-run single capped the rally.
NOTES: Pujols leads the majors with six intentional walks. ... The Braves hit 12 homers the first 13 games, but have hit only one the last eight games. ... The Cardinals' NL-leading 14-7 record matches their start last year, when they won the Central. They're an NL-best 153-109 in March and April since 2000. ... St. Louis pitchers haven't allowed a homer at home this season, covering 92 innings. ... The Cardinals' sweep over Atlanta in 1993 was a three-game series.
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