Left-hander Neal Cotts signs with the Astros

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Looking for a second left-handed reliever to pair with re-signed setup man Tony Sipp, the Astros have agreed to a minor-league deal with veteran Neal Cotts.

Cotts split last season between the Brewers and Twins, logging a total of 63 innings with a 3.41 ERA and 58/22 K/BB ratio. He has a 3.03 ERA in 187 innings since resurrecting his career in 2013 and fares well enough versus right-handed hitters to be more than just a southpaw specialist.

Houston has made the bullpen a priority this offseason, trading for stud closer Ken Giles from the Phillies, spending $18 million to retain Sipp, and bringing in Cotts as depth to go along with holdovers like Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek, Will Harris, and Josh Fields. It’s an extremely good, depth relief corps.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).