Pujols reaches 695 HRs, Mikolas goes 8 in Cardinals’ win vs. Cubs

St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs
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ST. LOUIS – Albert Pujols collected home run No. 695 in the eighth inning and Miles Mikolas tossed eight shutout innings to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 2-0 win over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.

Pujols drilled the two-run, pinch-hit shot off reliever Brandon Hughes (2-2).

A probable future Hall of Famer, Pujols trails only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and Alex Rodriguez (696) on the all-time home run list.

Pujols has seven pinch-hit homers in his career, including two this season. He has homered against 451 different pitchera, an all-time record.

The 42-year-old jumped on an 0-1 offering.

“It’s just pretty special to be able to do that,” Pujols said. “There’s some nights that you’re going to come through and some nights that you don’t. The nights that you do, you just enjoy it. And that’s what I’m going to enjoy tonight.”

Tommy Edman started the rally with a one-out double.

“I was 100% confident that he was going to find a way to drive me in,” Edman said. “As crazy as it is, we just expect that to happen now. He’s the best right-handed hitter of our generation.”

Pujols, in his last season, has found a way to come through in dramatic fashion all season long.

“There’s times in this game where you take a step back from being locked into the game and you get to be a fan for a minute, and experience it the way everyone else is,” St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said. “That was one of them. You take it all in because what he’s doing is absolutely incredible.”

Pujols hit his 130th career home run on Sundays, the most of any day.

Chicago manager David Ross indicated that he would have walked Pujols if Hughes got behind in the count.

“You’ve got to trust your guys,” Ross said. “Wanted to attack Albert. He just left one over the middle.”

St. Louis has won four in a row, 18 of its last 20 home games and is a season-best 24 games over .500 at 79-55. It was the Cardinals’ eighth series sweep of the season.

Chicago has lost seven of eight.

Mikolas (11-10) gave up two hits. He struck out three and walked one. Ryan Helsley earned his 13th save in 17 chances.

Chicago starter Marcus Stroman allowed four hits in seven shutout innings. He struck out five and did not walk a batter in a 98-pitch stint.

The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 28 minutes by rain.

HOMETOWN HERO

Boston Celtics standout Jayson Tatum, a St. Louis native, threw out the first pitch. Tatum played high school basketball at Chaminade College Prep, located 14 miles from Busch Stadium.

QUICK GETAWAY

The Cardinals have scored 91 runs in the first inning, second to the Los Angeles Dodgers with 95.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: C Willson Contreras missed the game with a sore left foot. He suffered the injury Tuesday against Toronto.

Cardinals: LHP Steven Matz will make a rehab start on Tuesday at Double-A Springfield. He has been out since Aug. 8 with a left knee sprain.

UP NEXT

Cubs: LHP Wade Miley (1-0, 2.84 ERA) will start on Tuesday as the Cubs begin a six-game homestand by hosting Cincinnati. Miley has been out since June 11 with a left shoulder strain. RHP Justin Dunn (1-2, 4.63) will start for the Reds.

Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty (0-0, 5.63) will face Washington RHP Anibal Sanchez (1-5, 5.05) in the first of a four-game series on Monday afternoon in St. Louis. Flaherty has been out since June 27 with a right shoulder strain. He made five rehab starts in the minors.

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

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TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.