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Albert Pujols homers three times in Cardinals' win

St. Louis takes a 16-7 victory over the Rangers in Game 3 for a 2-1 lead in World Series.

October 22, 2011|By Kevin Baxter | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
  • St. Louis' Albert Pujols watches his three-run home run in the sixth inning of the Cardinals' 16-7 victory over Texas. Pujols finished the game with three home runs, five hits and six RBIs.
St. Louis' Albert Pujols watches his three-run home run in the sixth… (Brian Snyder / Reuters )

Reporting from Arlington, Texas -- The World Series did more than simply change venues when it moved from frigid St. Louis to the heat of Texas for Game 3. It changed in character as well.

Because after splitting two pitchers' duels in Busch Stadium, the teams traded powerful body blows Saturday, and Albert Pujols landed the most devastating punches of all, homering three times in a 4-hour 4-minute slugfest won by the Cardinals, 16-7.

That gives St. Louis a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, which continues Sunday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Photos: Cardinals vs. Rangers in World Series

Consider the differences: After scoring four times in two games at home, the Cardinals scored four times each in the fourth and sixth innings Saturday. After managing one home run in 18 innings at Busch Stadium, the power Rangers hit two in the span of three batters in their half of the fourth.

And the 23 hits the two teams got in the first two games? They had that many by the top of the seventh inning Saturday.

But the night belonged to Pujols, who was hitless in the first two games but set one World Series record and tied two in Game 3.

His three home runs traveled a combined 1,226 feet and, with singles in his first two at-bats, he finished with 14 total bases, surpassing a Series record shared by Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson.

His five hits and six runs batted in tied World Series records, making Pujols' night arguably the best offensive performance in World Series history.

"The greatest night in World Series history," Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa said. "Show me one that was better. I think it would be hard to do."

But Pujols refused to be drawn into a discussion about individual performances.

"I don't concentrate on numbers. This is not an individual game; this is a team effort," Pujols said. "Hopefully, at the end of my career I can look back and say, 'Wow, what a game it was in Game 3 in 2011.'

"But as of right now, it's great to get this win and just move on pretty much and get ready to play tomorrow."

Suffice it to say the teams scored early and often, starting with Allen Craig, the second batter of the game, who homered into the left-field corner on the second pitch he saw.

It would not be the last home run of a night in which the traded big innings.

St. Louis padded its lead in a wild four-run fourth inning that started with a single by Pujols. Then the Rangers answered with three runs in the bottom half on opposite-field home runs by Michael Young, a solo shot, and Nelson Cruz, a two-run blast.

For Cruz, the home run was his seventh of the postseason and it marked the fourth consecutive postseason game in Arlington in which he has homered.

And they were just getting started.

The Cardinals scored seven times in the next two innings, with three of those runs coming on a massive three-run homer by Pujols off the concrete facing of the third deck in left field.

By the time Pujols connected for a two-run shot to center field in the seventh inning, the scoreboard looked more like a phone number than a linescore.

Pujols' final home run, a solo shot, came with two outs in the ninth inning, giving St. Louis at least one run in seven of their nine at-bats, including the final six.

Yadier Molina drove in four runs with two doubles for the Cardinals and Adrian Beltre finished with four hits for Texas.

Even La Russa made some history by winning his 68th postseason game, passing Bobby Cox for second on the all-time list behind Joe Torre.

Yet, all that went unnoticed given Pujols' performance.

"That's something I'm going to be able to tell my kids and grandkids," said reliever Lance Lynn, who earned the win.

"That I actually witnessed that in person."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

Photos: Cardinals vs. Rangers in World Series

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