Babe Ruth and Mr. October have some company in the annals of World Series history: Albert Pujols.
The Cardinals slugger put on a show for the ages in Game 3 of the World Series, smashing three home runs with 6 RBIs to power St. Louis to an easy 16-7 victory over the Texas Rangers.
Only Ruth, in 1926 and 1928, and Reggie Jackson, in 1977, have ever done what Pujols did Saturday night.
The performance gives the Cardinals a 2-1 lead, and decisive momentum, heading into Game 4 Sunday night.
Pujols said it is an honor to be named with Ruth and Jackson.
“I just think God that I was able to come out today and help our club win, and hopefully I can do that again tomorrow," he said.
Texas is known for its hitter-friendly ballpark, and Pujols felt right at home: He was 5 for 6 with four runs and 14 total bases. His RBIs and number of bases are both records in the Cardinals’ long World Series history.
And the rest of his team was pretty comfortable too. Catcher Yadier Molina had 4 RBIs, and third baseman David Freese was 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs.
Game 4 in Arlington is Sunday night at 7 p.m. Central time, 8 p.m. Eastern.
Game 3 started out much like games 1 and 2 but rapidly devolved into an offensive slugfest beginning in the fourth inning. Starters Matt Harrison (who took the loss for the Rangers) and Kyle Lohse were both knocked out in the frame.
The Cardinals’ Allen Craig got the scoring going early with a solo homer to left just after the game began, but things turned wild in the fourth.
Defensive misplays put the Rangers in a big hole – but they came right back with offensive fireworks in the bottom of the inning.
After going hitless the first two games, Pujols, the Cardinals’ 31-year-old franchise first baseman, got his first hit of the series with a hard-hit single to left leading off the fourth.
The next batter, Matt Holliday, hit a ground ball that forced out Pujols, and Holliday appeared to be tagged in the air by Mike Napoli on the throw to first – but he was called safe.
That proved key, as DH Lance Berkman singled, and Freese hit an RBI single down the right field line and into the corner, scoring Holliday.
Then, with the infield in, first baseman Napoli cleanly fielded a ground ball but his throw to catcher Yorvit Torrealba was off. The ball bounced back to the wall, allowing two Cardinals to score, putting St. Louis up 4-0.
Pouring it on, the Redbirds’ #9 hitter, Ryan Theriot, scored another runner with a base hit to left field.
Harrison fielded a high chopper and made a nifty backhanded toss to home to tag out Jon Jay. Then manager Ron Washington pulled him from the game. His line: five runs (three earned) and six hits allowed in three and two-thirds innings.
The Rangers quickly bounced back in the bottom of the fourth, with a leadoff home run by Michael Young, followed by a two-run shot from Nelson Cruz that went over the fence in right, just over the outstretched glove of Craig.
The Cardinals’ Lohse was yanked after the first four batters of the inning made hits. His line: three earned runs and five hits in just three-plus innings.
The Rangers threatened even further, but Napoli was nailed at the plate by Holliday as he tried to score on a fly to left.
But the Cardinals got it all back right away against Harrison’s struggling replacement, Scott Feldman. Pujols scored on a broken-bat fielder’s choice by Freese, giving St. Louis a 6-3 lead. Molina followed with a two-run double to the left corner, restoring St. Louis’ five-run lead.
Not deterred, the Rangers notched three straight hits against Fernando Salas to begin their half of the fifth inning, making it 8-4, and Redbirds manager Tony La Russa yanked his reliever after just one-plus innings.
Then Adrian Beltre snapped a hit to liner to left which shortstop Rafael Furcal could not quite reach, bringing home Hamilton and making it 8-5. A sacrifice fly by Napoli later in the inning made it 8-6.
After walking the bases loaded, Cardinals reliever Lance Lynn finally ended the inning by getting Ian Kinsler to pop out. Technically, Salas was charged with all three runs for the inning.
In the top of the sixth, with the first two men on, Craig came to the plate facing Alexi Ogando – the reliever he victimized with go-ahead pinch hits in both games 1 and 2.
But Ogando struck him out swinging this time on a low, 97 mph fastball.
Unfortunately for him, the next batter was Pujols – and the three-time National League MVP crushed his high 96 mph offering for a three-run shot that almost landed in the second deck in left, traveling 423 feet. It was his third hit of the night, and his 16th career postseason home run – allowing him to pass Ruth on the all-time list.
It also put the Cardinals up by five yet again, at 11-6.
A few batters later, Ogando was pulled after recording just one out. His World Series ERA is 27.00.
The Cardinals scored one more run in in the inning, putting them up 12-6. And in the bottom of the inning, Lynn redeemed himself by holding the Rangers scoreless.
Extending his virtuoso performance, Pujols hit a two-run homer to center in the seventh. The distance this time: 406 feet. After closing out the inning, pitcher Michael Gonzalez shook his head while walking off the mound, as in disbelief.
Pujols became the first player in Series history to get hits in four consecutive innings, Fox’s Tim McCarver said.
He came up a final time in the ninth and nearly popped out on the first base side against Darren Oliver, but the ball barely landed in the stands.
Then Pujols turned on yet another pitch and drove it out of the park, 397 feet to left-center.
That ended the scoring in a wild game – and put Pujols in the record books with Jackson and Ruth.