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Milestone in reach for Pujols

Milestone in reach for Pujols

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Occasionally the numbers can become a blur, but certain milestones still stand out even with a superstar like Albert Pujols.

Sometime soon, Pujols will reach another very noteworthy round number. With two more RBIs, he will reach 1,000 in that category for his career. It certainly could happen as early as Friday night, when the Cardinals open a three-game series against Ryan Dempster and the Cubs.

Depending on whether he drives in two runs before Carlos Beltran drives in four, Pujols will either be the 22nd or 23rd active player to reach that mark.

"That's a big number," said manager Tony La Russa. "He's earned every one of them. We're really lucky to have him."

After driving in three runs on Thursday, Pujols downplayed the significance of 1,000.

"I don't look at that number, man," he said. "I'm going to have, hopefully, if I stay healthy, plenty of RBI."

It will also help if the players in front of him continue to get on base. Skip Schumaker doubled twice out of the leadoff spot on Thursday, and Colby Rasmus had three hits batting in the No. 2 position in the Cardinals batting order.

It's hard to rack up RBIs without runners on base -- unless you hit a solo home run, which Pujols did in the first inning on Thursday. But for the most part, it takes help, and Pujols has been getting it.

"They're getting on base," he said. "That's why I've got 21 RBIs [this year]. They're getting on base, and I'm getting my pitch and doing damage with it."

Pujols stands sixth on the Cardinals' career RBI list. With two, he'll become the sixth man to drive in 1,000 in a Redbirds uniform. And with two more after that, he'll pass Ken Boyer into fifth place on the franchise's all-time list. That would leave him trailing only Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, Jim Bottomley and Rogers Hornsby -- all Hall of Famers.

"He's the best player I'll probably ever play with," Schumaker said. "I'm happy on this side, because I wouldn't want to play against him. He just does so much damage. It's incredible."

Pitching matchup
STL: RHP Adam Wainwright (2-0, 3.31 ERA)
This start will put Wainwright on seven full days' rest, a decision the Cardinals chalk up to matchups -- they preferred Wainwright against the Cubs and Kyle Lohse against the Mets, rather than vice versa. Still, it should also allow Wainwright an extra bullpen session in which to get sorted out, since he still has yet to have a game in which he pitched up to his own standards.

CHC: RHP Ryan Dempster (1-0, 5.00 ERA)
Dempster did not factor in the decision his last time out, when he took on the Cardinals. The Cubs eventually won, 7-5, in 11 innings, and Dempster helped keep Chicago in the game, even though he wasn't sharp early. In six innings, Dempster allowed four runs on four hits and retired nine of the final 10 hitters he faced.

Tidbits
Pujols is 8-for-32 (.250) against Dempster with two home runs. ... The Cardinals lead the Pirates and Reds by 1 1/2 game in the National League Central, with Chicago in fourth, two games out. ... Colby Rasmus is 11-for-30 (.367) with nine runs and four walks in his last nine games. He has a .441 on-base percentage in that span. ... The Cardinals have scored 100 runs in 16 games -- 6.25 per game. ... Cardinals catchers are batting .379 on the year with a .448 on-base percentage and .517 slugging percentage.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FS-M HD

On radio
• KTRS 550

Up next
• Saturday: Cardinals (Mitchell Boggs, 0-0, 4.50) vs. Cubs (Sean Marshall, 0-0, 4.50), 3:10 p.m. CT
• Sunday: Cardinals (Todd Wellemeyer, 1-1, 5.29) vs. Cubs (Rich Harden, 1-1, 4.20), 1:15 p.m. CT
• Monday: Cardinals (Joel Pineiro, 3-0, 4.12) at Braves (TBD), 6:00 p.m. CT

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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