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Updated: Thursday, August 5, 2004 2:49 AM EDT
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ST LOUIS 5, MONTREAL 4
 

ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- John Mabry set the stage and Albert Pujols delivered in the clutch for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Mabry went 4-for-4 with four RBI and Pujols led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a home run to fuel the Cardinals to a 5-4 victory over the Montreal Expos .

"The man was in right field tonight," Expos manager Frank Robinson said. "We couldn't get Mabry out. He's the one. If it hadn't been for him, no matter what Albert had done it wouldn't have mattered."

"I'm just trying to swing at strikes," said Mabry, who is hitting .565 (13-23) in his last six starts. "Put good wood on the ball and use all parts of the field."

With the Expos holding a 3-0 lead in the fourth, Mabry connected for a two-run blast off Montreal starter Livan Hernandez . He added a two-run single in the seventh off of lefty Joe Horgan , to give the Cardinals a 4-3 edge.

"I played with Horgy at Memphis this year," Mabry said.

"He threw a curveball that I got good wood on. In that situation I figured that he was going to come after me and he did. I just got lucky." "He hits lefties as like he does righties," Cardinal manager Tony La Russa said. "He hangs in there real well. He's proven that he can take that at bat and have a chance."

Montreal battled back to tie the game in the eighth, thanks to a throwing error by second baseman Tony Womack that set up Alex Gonzalez 's RBI double.

But after taking two strikes and fouling off three more pitches, Pujols connected on a 1-2 offering from Chad Cordero (3-2) for his 31st home run of the season.

"I wasn't trying to hang a slider," Cordero said. "I was trying to get it out and down, unfortunately I left it over the plate. I hung it and he made me pay for it. It's not over until you make 27 outs."

"I just want to get on base," Pujols said. "Everybody in that situation, tie ballgame in the bottom of the ninth, everybody wants to be a hero. I just want to get on base, lead off with a base hit or walk and let the other guys drive me in."

Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny saw his major league record 252-game errorless streak for catchers end when his throw trying to get the Expos Henry Mateo stealing second, bounced past shortstop Edgar Renteria and into center field.

"He beat that record by so many, it was one of those where he rushed the throw," La Russa said. "He's just playing the game. It's a great streak, he's never backed off of one play trying to be conservative. Its really an amazing record."

Julian Tavarez (3-3) picked up the win after allowing one hit in one inning.

The Expos stranded 12 base runners and were only 3-17 with runners in scoring position.

"We had quite a few opportunities. We just couldn't get them in. We can't get that man in from third base on a regular bases," Robinson said. "We had a lot of opportunities, we just didn't take advantage of them."


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