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Friday February 3rd, 2023 1:12AM

Pujols hits 696th HR, ties A-Rod for 4th; Cards beat Pirates

By The Associated Press
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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Albert Pujols hit his 696th home run, tying Alex Rodriguez for fourth place on the career list, and the St. Louis Cardinals rallied past the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-5 Saturday night.

Pujols trails only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) on the all-time homer chart. The 42-year-old Pujols has 22 games left in his 22nd and final season in the big leagues.

“I don’t care who I tied,” Pujols said. “At the end of the day, it’s about tying (the game) for the team and giving them an opportunity to pick up a win. ... It’s pretty special. I think I’m aware of where I am in the history of the game. But at the end of the day, 21 years ago when I make the ballclub, that wasn’t something that I was chasing.

“Twenty-two years later, I don’t think I’m going to change my approach,” he continued. "I think I’m going to let things happen and try to enjoy it. If it happens, it happens. If not, at the end of the day, I think everybody, including myself, are pretty blessed with the career that I have.”

With St. Louis down 3-1 in the sixth, Pujols connected on a first-pitch slider from JT Brubaker. He sent a two-run shot 418 feet into the left-field bleachers at PNC Park, launched with an exit velocity of 111.2 mph.

“I know it’s a historic home run, but it still sucks,” Brubaker said. “I should have walked off that mound giving our team the lead and I didn’t do it. That bothers me.”

Pujols also doubled and singled for the NL Central leaders. His RBI single in the eighth made it 4-all.

“Albert, three knocks. Big homer there,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “ ... Fouled two pitches off in the top of the zone. He knew he had to make an adjustment to get on top of it. Was able to let it get a little deep, got on top of it for a single. Drove in that run. That’s a pro at bat.”

Nolan Arenado broke the tie with a three-run double with two outs in the ninth off Wil Crowe (5-9).

“You have a guy that is grinding right now," Marmol said. "He’s played a lot of games in a row. Head stays in it, gives us a good at bat there and drives in three runs. That was nice to see.”

Giovanny Gallegos (3-5) pitched a perfect eighth inning for the Cardinals. Ryan Helsley allowed a two-out RBI single from Bryan Reynolds in the ninth before getting Rodolfo Castro to ground out for his 15th save.

Paul Goldschmidt was 0 for 4, dropping his average to .325 to fall behind Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Freddie Freeman (.330) in the NL batting race. His two-out walk loaded the bases in the ninth.

Oneil Cruz put the Pirates ahead 4-3 in the seventh with his 14th homer, driven over the Clemente Wall in right. The 23-year-old rookie singled in the first, extending his hit streak to a career-best seven games. He is 14 for 30 (.467) during the streak.

“He’s a good player,” Pujols said of Cruz. “Obviously, he has a great future ahead of him.”

Pittsburgh took a 3-0 lead on a pair of homers off Jack Flaherty in the first two innings, a solo shot from Castro in the first and a two-run drive from Jack Suwinski in the second. Flaherty went five innings, giving up three runs on six hits.

Brendan Donovan cut the deficit to two with a home run in the Cardinals fifth.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: LHP Packy Naughton was recalled from Triple-A Memphis. … RHP James Naile was optioned to Memphis.

Pirates: RHP David Bednar threw a live batting practice on Saturday. The All-Star closer has been on the injured list with lower back tightness since Aug. 3.

UP NEXT

Cardinals LHP José Quintana (5-6, 3.41 ERA) will return to the mound in Pittsburgh on Sunday, going opposite RHP Mitch Keller (5-10, 4.22). Quintana and RHP Chris Stratton were sent to St. Louis on Aug. 1 in a trade that moved RHP Johan Oviedo and INF Malcolm Nuñez to the Pirates. Keller allowed five hits in six shutout innings against the Mets his last time out on Tuesday.

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