Albert Pujols swiftly waking, hits walkoff homer to beat Cubs

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Whether caused by a hamstring injury, distractions related to his impending free agency, or simply the aging process, Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols had a disappointing first two months.

He’s on a mission to make June, July, August, September and October far more fruitful.

Pujols finished 3-for-4 with four RBI in the Cardinals’ extra-innings defeat of the rival Cubs on Saturday afternoon in a muggy St. Louis. He ripped a two-run shot to right-center field in the fourth inning, an RBI double in the sixth inning and then played the hero in the 12th inning with his first walkoff home run of the season. It was the ninth game-ending homer of his career.

Pujols is now 10-for-23 with four home runs, nine RBI and nine runs scored since the Cardinals arrived home from a western road trip on Monday. His OPS rose from .761 to .807 on Saturday alone and has jumped over 70 points in the past 10 days. The slugger is still miles from his historically exceptional career offensive pace, but Pujols is capable of going on a tear that can last until autumn and is certainly showing signs of life.

The Cardinals are 10 games above .500 and sit alone atop the National League Central standings.

Chris Paddack loses no-hit bid in eighth inning vs. Marlins

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Update (9:16 PM ET): Aaaaaand it’s over. Just like that. Starlin Castro led off the eighth inning with a solo home run to left field. That ends the shutout bid as well, obviously.

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Padres starter Chris Paddack has kept the Marlins hitless through seven innings on Wednesday evening in Miami. The right-hander has allowed two base runners on a throwing error and a walk while striking out seven on 82 pitches.

The Padres’ offense provided Paddack with three runs of support, all coming in the fourth on Greg Garcia‘s RBI single and a two-run home run by Austin Hedges.

Paddack, 23, entered Wednesday’s start carrying a 2.84 ERA with an 87/18 K/BB ratio across 82 1/3 innings in his rookie campaign.

Among all 30 teams, the Padres are the only one without a no-hitter. They came into the league in 1969. The Marlins were last victims of a no-hitter on September 28, 2014 when Jordan Zimmermann — then with the Nationals — accomplished the feat.