Albert Pujols explodes the 701st circuit: “extra special”


ST. LOUIS — Albert Pujols hit his 701st homer, Jack Flaherty allowed a run in six innings and the NL Central champion St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 on Friday night.

Pujols smashed a 398-foot Johan Oveido slider to left field in the fourth inning, his 22nd homer of the season.

In his first game against his former teammate, Oviedo became the 456th different pitcher Pujols has homered against. Pujols hadn’t homered in a week since hitting numbers 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday.

“It was a good shot to hit and I just had the best swing of the night,” Pujols said. “That was it. A 1-2 count, but without trying to do too much.

The player tied the game at 1-1. After a long standing ovation, Pujols stepped out of the dugout and tilted his cap to the sold-out crowd.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Pujols said. “I didn’t know it was going to be like this. It’s pretty good to be kissed like that. I mean, that’s what I’ve had all year, but today was very special. It was a great evening overall.

Pujols, 42, is fourth on baseball’s home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714). He said it was his last season.

The Pujols homer was his 55th against the Pirates, his third against any team, behind Houston (70) and the Chicago Cubs (62).

Ahead of the game, the slugger was recognized for hitting his 700th last week in Los Angeles. He was given an engraved gold-plated bat by owner Bill DeWitt Jr., team president Bill DeWitt III, and manager Oliver Marmol.

Albert Pujols completes his 701st home run, a solo shot, in the fourth inning of the Cardinals 2-1 against the Pirates.
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Oviedo (4-3) allowed two runs on six hits while striking out four. The Cardinals traded him and infielder Malcom Nunez to the Pirates on August 1. The deal brought starter Jose Quintana and reliever Chris Stratton to St. Louis.

Flaherty (2-1) allowed four hits, struck out six and scored two in his fifth start since returning from a right shoulder injury that sidelined him most of the game. season.

“I’m just more in a groove more times (I) go out there. We just keep running throws and it’s great,” Flaherty said.

Albert Pujols waves to fans during an encore after hitting his 701st homer in the Cardinals' win.
Albert Pujols waves to fans during an encore after hitting his 701st homer in the Cardinals’ win.
USA TODAY Sports

The right-hander improved to 9-1 with a 2.60 ERA in 14 career starts against the Pirates.

He was happy to be the beneficiary of Pujols’ power.

“He did that in a lot of my starts. I feel like every time I go out there he’s going to hit one,” Flaherty said. “I see the ball come off the stick and I hear everyone, so it’s fun when he does that.”

Nolan Arenado put the Cardinals ahead in the fifth inning with a single that fell just past right fielder Jack Suwinski to score Brendan Donovan.

Ji Hwan Bae drove in the Pirates’ lone run with a bunt single past Flaherty to score Ben Gamel in the fourth.

Pirates manager Derek Shelton took a moment to appreciate Pujols’ achievements.

“I think we’re seeing one of the best hitters of our generation and he had an amazing second half,” Shelton said. “You can’t make mistakes on him at the moment. We made the only mistake on him and he knocked him out of the stadium. What he did in his career and more importantly what he did in the second half is extremely special.

Ryan Helsley threw a scoreless ninth for his 19th save in 23 chances.

New York Post

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