ATLANTA – Colby Rasmus hit a pair of homers, Albert Pujols and Skip Schumaker also connected, and Adam Wainwright bounced back from a shaky first inning to lead the Cardinals past the slumping Atlanta Braves 11-4 on Thursday night.
The Braves, looking to turn things around after a poor road trip knocked them out of first place in the NL East, jumped ahead 3-0 in the first inning. But the Cardinals rocked Jair Jurrjens for five runs in the second — capped by Schumaker's two-out, two-run drive — and Atlanta took its sixth loss in eight games.
Rasmus went 4 for 4 and drove in four runs, matching his career high in both categories.
Atlanta dropped a full game behind idle Philadelphia in the NL East and could miss the playoffs entirely if it doesn't turn things around. San Francisco trailed by 1½ games in the wild-card race heading into its late game against San Diego.
The Cardinals won for just the fifth time in 16 games and trail first-place Cincinnati by five games in the NL Central. The Reds lost to Colorado.
Wainwright (18-10) appeared headed for an early exit in the first. The Cardinals committed two throwing errors on one play, Jason Heyward had a run-scoring single and Derrek Lee homered for the first time with the Braves, a two-run shot.
The big right-hander was nearly perfect after that. Wainwright faced the minimum over the next seven innings, giving up a pair of singles to Nate McLouth that were both erased by double plays. He came out after eighth, having fashioned an impressive seven-hit, three-run line on a night that started poorly.
Pujols finished off Jurrjens (7-5) in the fourth, hitting his 37th homer on an 0-2 pitch. The Atlanta starter surrendered 10 hits and seven runs in 3 2-3 innings.
Rasmus sparked the second-inning outburst with a single, led off the fifth with his first homer of the night and followed with a two-run single in the sixth as the Cardinals really poured it on. He capped his night with his 21st homer, a drive deep into the right-field seats off Kenshin Kawakami.
NOTES: LHP Trever Miller was day to day after an MRI to evaluate soreness in his left elbow. Doctors determined that he has a strained forearm, and he was expected to rejoin the Cardinals. ... Wainwright is one win away from his career high, last year's 19-8 mark. ... The Braves failed to win their 50th home game of the season. Their record at Turner Field slipped to 49-20, still the best in the majors.