Albert Pujols made his return to the lineup Saturday to help St. Louis to a third consecutive win.

Albert Pujols returns, Cards win 8-5

Albert Pujols played well in his first game after missing five in a row due to lower back spasms. The superstar first baseman stepped into the lineup as if he was never gone — he finished with a single, a double, and a walk in his three plate appearances after sitting out of practice and games for almost a week. Pujols said his back felt fine in every situation he faced Saturday — a big relief for Redbird nation.

The Cards also felt pretty good as a group in route to an 8-5 victory over the Astros.

The rest of the lineup and the pitching staff performed well to complement Pujols’ return. St. Louis batted around in the fourth in the process of scoring four runs. Ryan Ludwick started the big inning with a solo home run. Yadier Molina and Julio Lugo kept the momentum going with doubles to follow Ludwick’s blast. Skip Schumaker also doubled in the game. Lugo hit a two-run shot later in the game to finish off the Astros.

On the mound, Chris Carpenter had a good outing overall. He went three innings, gave up two runs, struck out five and walked one. He worked the strike zone well, and displayed his ability to dominate hitters with his stuff (five K’s). While it wasn’t a spectacular performance, it was a solid showing at this point in the spring. Rich Hill picked up the win in relief after his start Friday was rained out. He continues to battle for the final spot in the rotation.

St. Louis pushes its record to 4-5 and will now face the Nationals Sunday. It will be an exciting matchup as the Cards send Adam Wainwright to the hill to face Stephen Strasburg. The top prospect in decades lived up to the hype in his first start against the Tigers, pitching two shutout innings and striking out two.

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