Pujols leads Cardinals past Blue Jays 6-1, makes St. Louis history

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·4 min read
Pujols leads Cardinals past Blue Jays 6-1, makes St. Louis history
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TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays have been one of the hottest teams in baseball but they struggled against the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.

Albert Pujols had a three-run homer and made Cardinals history as St. Louis beat the Blue Jays 6-1 to snap Toronto's seven-game win streak. The 42-year-old first baseman singled in the second inning, doubled in the fourth, and homered in the fifth to surpass Rogers Hornsby for fourth on the Cardinals' all-time hits list. Pujols now has 2,112 hits for St. Louis.

Pujols' offence backed up 40-year-old starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (7-8), who struck out eight and allowed five hits over seven innings of one-run ball. Pujols and Wainwright won the World Series together in 2006 and were still teammates in 2011 when the Cardinals repeated as champions, although Wainwright was injured for the entirety of that season.

"We were waiting for Ozzie Smith to backflip out in the ninth at short," said Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider, referring to the Cards' long-time Hall of Fame shortstop who retired in 1996.

"You've got to tip your hat, man. They've been doing it for a long time. Obviously both of them had great nights."

Nolan Gorman added a solo home run for the Cardinals (52-47), while relievers Giovanny Gallegos and Ryan Helsley combined for two scoreless innings

Bo Bichette's RBI single was all the offence Toronto (54-44) would muster. The lone run was in stark contrast to the 68 the Blue Jays scored over their seven-game streak that began on July 15.

Toronto is still 8-2 in its last 10 games.

Kevin Gausman (7-8) struck out six but gave up eight hits and a walk for five runs over 4 2/3 innings. Trevor Richards, Jeremy Beasley, Anthony Banda, and David Phelps came on in relief, with Richards allowing a run.

Gausman praised Wainwright, who now has 191 career wins, fifth among active MLB pitchers.

"Obviously I was in the clubhouse a lot earlier than I wanted to be, but he just pitches and you can never guess what pitch he's going to throw in any situation," Gausman said. "Obviously, he's one of the best starters of our generation."

Pujols got a warm ovation from the 36,666 in attendance at Rogers Centre for the second consecutive day. He spent the first 11 seasons of his career with the Cardinals before a stint with the Los Angeles Angels and their intercity rivals, the Dodgers. When he re-signed with St. Louis in March, he announced that 2022 would be his final season in Major League Baseball.

Dylan Carlson opened the scoring in the third inning, with his double pushing Gorman across home plate for a 1-0 St. Louis lead.

Lars Nootbaar added to that lead in the next inning with a double up the first-base line. Brendan Donovan scored on the hit before Nootbaar was thrown out.

Bichette chipped away at the Cardinals' lead in the bottom of the inning with a single bringing home Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The burly slugger had put himself in scoring position by stealing second base, his first of the season and only his second attempt.

Gorman led off the fifth inning with a solo home run, launching the ball 412 feet to re-establish the Cardinals' two-run lead. Five hitters later Pujols came up to the plate, crushing the ball 439 feet to score Andrew Knizner and Tyler O'Neill for a 6-1 St. Louis lead.

Although it was just Pujols's seventh homer of the season, it was the 686th of his career.

"He’s unbelievable. He might be old but he can still hit," Wainwright said.

ROGERS CENTRE RENOS — Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro will unveil new plans for renovations to Rogers Centre on Thursday afternoon. The downtown Toronto ballpark first opened in 1989 and has had several improvements made to it over the past 30 years.

TRADE DEADLINE — Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins spoke with media ahead of Wednesday's game and acknowledged that Toronto would be interested in acquiring another pitcher. Both the bullpen and the rotation could use extra arms, especially after starter Hyun-Jin Ryu's season-ending Tommy John surgery. Major League Baseball's trade deadline is Tuesday.

NEXT UP — Yusei Kikuchi (3-5) gets the start as Toronto hosts the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of a four-game series. Kikuchi is coming off the 15-day injured list after missing time with a strained neck. Tyler Alexander (2-3) will take the mound for Detroit.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 27, 2022.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

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