Pujols hits 3 HRs, Cards romp to 2-1 Series edge
AP Baseball Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Albert Pujols simply let his bat make all the noise. And boy, it was pretty loud.
Pujols hit three impressive home runs to tie the World Series record, amassing five hits and six RBIs Saturday night as the St. Louis Cardinals romped past the Texas Rangers 16-7 for a 2-1 edge.
The outburst by the three-time NL MVP came a day after he was barbed by the media for not sticking around to talk about a Game 2 error and loss. This time, everyone was talking about him.
Pujols, who was 0 for 6 in the first two games, became the third player to hit three homers in a Series game. He joined Babe Ruth, who did it in 1926 and again in 1928, and Reggie Jackson’s performance in 1977.
His six RBIs tied the record in a game, matching Bobby Richardson in 1960 and Hideki Matsui in 2009.
Oh, Pujols also matched the Series mark for hits in a game set by Paul Molitor in 1982. Just think, too – Pujols’ monster night came after he grounded out in the first inning.
“It’s an honor to be named in the same category as those guys,” Pujols said.
The Cardinals mashed their way to the highest-scoring game in their storied postseason history.
After two taut games in St. Louis, this suddenly turned into a messy slugfest. Pujols, the most feared slugger in the majors, was right in the middle – he became the first player in Series history to get hits in four straight innings.
Texan fans booed after first base umpire Ron Kulpa’s blown call helped the Cardinals score four times in the fourth for a 5-0 lead. The crowd at Rangers Ballpark went silent when Pujols started swinging for the fences, and beyond. His three-run shot in the sixth rattled the windows of the club level in left field.
Game 4 is Sunday night, with Derek Holland starting for the Rangers against Edwin Jackson. It will be the back half of a St. Louis-Texas style doubleheader – earlier in the day, the Rams play the Dallas Cowboys right across the parking lot.
This game had an NFL score, too, for much of the evening. The teams combined for 23 runs and 28 hits – at Busch Stadium, they teamed for eight runs and 23 hits in two games.
“You leave a ball up in this park it’s going to carry a little more than it does in St. Louis,” Pujols said.
Good-luck charm Allen Craig homered for St. Louis and Yadier Molina drove in four runs. The Cardinals broke it open by scoring four times in the fourth, three more in the fifth and four in the sixth.
Adrian Beltre kept mashing for the Texas, getting four hits and driving in four runs.
Pujols, however, had the defining game of his career. Good timing, too, as he heads into free agency.
The big slugger connected off Alexi Ogando in the sixth, hit a two-run drive off Michael Gonzalez in the seventh and tagged Darren Oliver for a solo shot with two outs in the ninth.
By the end, it was hard to keep track of all the hits. Balls were rolling into the corners, sailing over the fence and going most everywhere.
In the seventh, a fan wearing a Rangers shirt threw a ball toward St. Louis left fielder Matt Holliday as he was preparing to catch a fly ball. The fan was led away by security.
Early in the game, it appeared Kulpa’s call would be the focal point.
The Cardinals led 1-0 when Pujols led off the fourth with a single. Holliday followed with a perfect double-play ball, but was ruled safe by Kulpa at first. Replays clearly show part-time first baseman Mike Napoli caught second baseman Ian Kinsler’s high toss and slapped a tag on Holliday before he reached the bag.
The Rangers argued, to no avail. The Cardinals quickly scored four times, helped when Napoli threw wide to the plate for an error that let two runs cross. Texas fans booed as replays of the bad call circulated – they won’t be happy to learn, either, that Kulpa was born, raised and lives in the St. Louis area.
For the Cardinals, perhaps it was a little evening up, albeit many years later. The call came four days before the anniversary of umpire Don Denkinger’s missed call at first base in the 1985 World Series that severely cost St. Louis.
Starters Kyle Lohse of St. Louis and Matt Harrison were both pulled in the fourth inning. Soon after, it was clear that no pitchers were going to be too effective.
Lance Lynn earned the win with 2 1-3 innings of relief and Harrison took the loss.
NOTES: Cardinals manager Tony La Russa earned his 68th postseason victory. He moved ahead of Bobby Cox into second place. Joe Torre leads with 84. … Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki threw out the first ball. The 7-foot Nowitzki fired a fastball from the mound that Young scooped. There has never been a 7-foot major leaguer, though 7-1 pitcher Loek Van Mil is in the Angels’ system.