PITTSBURGH -- With a home run in the sixth inning Tuesday against the Pirates, Albert Pujols became the first player in Major League history to begin his career with 11 straight seasons of 30 or more home runs.

Pujols' 30th home run of the season, a solo shot off starter Jeff Karstens, came on a 1-2 count and cleared the right-field fence at PNC Park. It made the score 3-2 in favor of the Pirates and sparked a small rally -- by the end of the sixth the score was tied at 3 after David Freese's RBI double.

Pujols has 28 career home runs and 81 career RBIs at PNC Park, both personal highs at a road stadium.

Cardinals to keep rotation consistent with off-day

PITTSBURGH -- Though there were deliberations of moving the starting lineup around following Thursday's off-day, the Cardinals opted to stick with the same lineup to allow each pitcher an extra day of rest.

"It's a good time to give everybody an extra day, we think," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.

Starter Jaime Garcia has been working on his delivery this week after his third straight five-inning outing Saturday against the Rockies. His ERA has inflated from 3.01 on July 23 to 3.42 after Saturday.

Garcia will start against the Cubs on Friday and will be followed by Edwin Jackson, who left Sunday's start early with a cramp in his leg.

Either could have been skipped and another starter moved up because of the off-day, but La Russa said it was better for the staff to remain consistent.

"We're ending the fifth month of the year, and at this point, if you can give each starter an extra day, our reasoning is it's a good time to freshen them up," La Russa said. "Hopefully the payoff is when we play in September, guys still have gas in their tank."

Every win critical as Cards chase Brewers

PITTSBURGH -- As the Cardinals have looked for consistency, especially on offense, the National League Central-leading Brewers have just kept winning.

Since being a half-game up in the division on July 26, the Cardinals have won more than they've lost, going 10-9 in the stretch. But over the same span, the Brewers have won 16 games and lost just two, putting the Cardinals in a six-game hole.

The Cardinals now need a similar run to stay in it, manager Tony La Russa said.

"You know that they're not [going to lose]," La Russa said. "It doesn't change -- we need to win a lot of games whether they win that many or not. We've got to catch up to them, which means winning."

In their 10 wins since July 26, the Cardinals have averaged 7.1 runs per game. In their nine losses, they've averaged 2.4 runs.

"It's one of those things, I guess," second baseman Ryan Theriot said after Monday's 6-2 loss to the Pirates. "Hopefully we can keep going."

Baby birds

PITTSBURGH -- While many teams made last-minute deals with draftees before Monday's signing deadline, the Cardinals already had 34 new players under contract and, for the most part, playing in Rookie Leagues and Class A.

Second-round pick Charlie Tilson was the only pick the Cardinals signed on Monday.

First-round pick Kolten Wong, who signed on June 25, has a .327 average in 40 games with Class A Quad Cities. He has 55 hits and 20 RBIs.

In 19 games with Low-A Batavia, eighth-round pick Danny Miranda is 2-2 with a 3.38 ERA and has 19 strikeouts compared to six walks.

In all, 31 draftees have begun play. Rookie League Johnson City has an Appalachian League-leading 36-17 mark, while the Gulf Coast League Cardinals are in second place with a 27-19 record.

In other Minor League news:

• Catcher Tony Cruz was one of four Redbirds with multiple hits Monday as Triple-A Memphis defeated the Tucson Padres, 8-1. Maikel Cleto got the win with six scoreless innings.

• Matt Adams hit his 28th home run of the season Monday as Double-A Springfield lost, 4-2, to Corpus Christi. Adams has 90 RBIs in 96 games this season.