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Updated: Sunday, May 9, 2004 5:34 PM EDT
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MONTREAL (Ticker) -- Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols made sure the St. Louis Cardinals would not be swept by the lowly Montreal Expos .

Edmonds smacked a go-ahead three-run homer and Pujols added a two-run shot as the Cardinals defeated the Expos, 5-2, in the finale of a three-game series.

Chris Carpenter (3-1) yieled two runs and four hits in eight innings to pick up the win for the Cardinals, who had lost four of their previous six contests. Jason Isringhausen worked the ninth for his fifth save.

"My stuff was good," Carpenter said. "My curveball is the best it's been all year. I kept the ball down and made quality pitches."

"He was so strong that he could have pitched in the ninth," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of Carpenter.

The game was tied, 2-2, when Carpenter led off the sixth with a single against Expos starter Claudio Vargas (2-2). Tony Womack followed with a single before Edmonds belted his seventh homer of the season, sending a 1-2 offering over the wall in right field to chase Vargas.

"I was looking for a ground ball for a double play," Vargas said. "It was inside and he hit it good."

Montreal, which had won three straight games and five of six, took a 1-0 lead on an RBI single by Jose Vidro in the third inning before Pujols gave St. Louis a 2-1 edge with his ninth homer one frame later.

"That's what you need after tough losses to get things going," said Pujols, whose team suffered 4-2 and 2-0 defeats in the first two games.

"These guys played a good series and we're fortunate to get a win," Edmonds said of the Expos. "We've played some tough games and they played better than us for three days. We just got a lucky break today and got away with a win."

The Cardinals tied it in the bottom of the fourth on a leadoff homer by Brad Wilkerson .

"Chris threw a great game," Pujols said. "He made a couple of mistakes but after that he shut it down."

"Two series wins here is pretty good," Wilkerson said. "We'd like to have gotten the one today but we still won this series and now we've got to go on the road (at Milwaukee and Arizona) and take care of business."

Vargas saw hit ERA rise to 5.77 after allowing five runs and five hits in five-plus innings.

"I'm going through a bad moment right now," Vargas said. "I'm going to keep working and keep my head up."

"He wasn't as sharp as you would like to see him but he made the pitches when he had to early in the game," Expos manager Frank Robinson said. "I just looked at it really as him having one bad inning and it took us out of the ballgame."

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