ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - The Toronto Blue Jays took full advantage of the absence of Albert Pujols to beat St. Louis 6-3 Saturday and send the struggling Cardinals to another loss without their injured All Star slugger.
Juan Rivera launched a three-run homer to spark five runs for the Blue Jays (38-39) in the third inning, while Edwin Encarnacion added a solo blast in the ninth as St. Louis dropped to 1-4 since Pujols injured his wrist Sunday.
Toronto starting pitcher Carlos Villanueva sparked the rally at the plate by drawing a lead-off walk in the third which led to the visitors seizing a 5-1 advantage.
"I'm not the best hitter. What I did, was try to make him throw as many pitches as possible," Villanueva told reporters.
"I know when I'm out there (on the mound) I don't want to go deep in the count against the pitcher."
Toronto's offense was more than enough support for Villanueva, who allowed two runs in six innings, to get the win against the Cardinals' limited lineup.
St. Louis (41-37), who scored in the first and the fourth, put two runners on with just one out in the ninth against reliever Frank Francisco but only came away with one run.
The ninth inning frustrations followed Matt Holliday's ejection in the eighth for arguing balls and strikes with the umpire.
"(The umpire) thought he argued way too far and too much," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. "You're not supposed to argue balls and strikes."
St. Louis starter Jaime Garcia allowed five runs over seven innings to take the loss as the Cardinals fell two games back of the Milwaukee Brewers for the lead in the National League Central Division.
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Patrick Johnston)