Albert Pujols hits 698th homer, helps Cardinals beat Reds 6-5

Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
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ST. LOUIS — Albert Pujols hit his 698th home run, a tying two-run drive in the sixth inning that sparked the St. Louis Cardinals over the Cincinnati Reds 6-5 on Friday night.

Pujols hit a first-pitch slider from Raynel Espinal 427 feet into the left-field stands for his 19th home run this season, tying the score 4-4. Pujols trails only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) on the career list.

With 2,203 RBIs, the 42-year-old Pujols moved within 11 of Ruth for second, behind Aaron’s 2,297.

Ryan Helsley struck out Kyle Farmer, Jake Fraley and Donovan Solano on nine pitches for his 18th save in 22 chances, the third immaculate inning in Cardinals history after Bob Gibson in 1969 and Jason Isringhausen in 2002.

Pujols is hitting .324 9 (45 for 139) with 15 homers and 35 RBIs in 47 games since July 10. Five of his last six home runs have come in the sixth inning or later, and his last five homers have tied the game or put St. Louis ahead.

Pujols hit a drive to T.J. Friedl at the left-field wall in the seventh. He is in his 22nd major league season and intends to retire at the end of the season.

St. Louis (85-60), which began the night with a 7 1/2-game lead over second-place Milwaukee in the NL Central, has 17 games remaining.

After Farmer homered off JoJo Romero to give Cincinnati a 5-4 lead in the seventh, Brandon Donovan walked against Ian Gibaut (1-2) leading off the bottom half, and Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado followed with consecutive RBI doubles.

Chris Stratton (9-4) got the final out of the seventh. Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty allowed four runs, six hits, two walks and two hit batters in five innings.

Goldschmidt doubled twice and got his 111th RBI.

Reds starter Fernando Cruz, wearing No. 21 to honor Roberto Clemente, retired his first five batters as an opener before hitting Pujols with a pitch and coming out of the game.

ARMS OF CHAMPIONS

Pitcher Jason Motte of the 2011 champion Cardinals and goaltender Jordan Binnington of the 2019 Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues threw out ceremonial first pitches.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Reds: RHP Hunter Greene (right shoulder strain) will be activated off the injured list to start the night game of Saturday’s doubleheader, his first start since Aug. 1 at Miami.

Cardinals: OF Dylan Carlson (sprained left thumb) started in center field for Triple-A Memphis Friday night at Iowa and hit a pair of doubles in three at bats. He is expected to start for Memphis Saturday and Sunday and could rejoin the big league club Tuesday.

UP NEXT

RHP Dakota Hudson (7-7, 4.43 ERA) will be recalled from Triple-A Memphis to start Saturday’s day game against LHP Mike Minor (4-11, 5.78 ERA) who has not won a start against St. Louis since Aug. 25, 2013 while pitching for Atlanta. LHP Jose Quintana (5-6, 3.34 ERA), who starts the night game, is 2-1 with a 2.93 ERA in nine starts sincehe was acquired from Pittsburgh on Aug. 1.

Pujols has 2 more RBIs, Cardinals beat Pirates 8-7 in 10

Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols drove in two more runs and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a two-run single in the third inning to push his career total to 2,218 RBIs. That came a night after he broke a tie with Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol then removed the 42-year-old Pujols at the end of the inning. St. Louis opens postseason play Friday when it hosts a best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Juan Yepez gave the Cardinals the win when he hit a tiebreaking single with one in the 10th inning off Chase De Jong (6-3) to score automatic runner Ben Deluzio.

“Tonight was interesting because you’re fairly scripted in who you want to use and who you don’t want to use and what you want tomorrow to look like so you can get ready for Friday,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one to still figure out a way to come out on top.”

The Cardinals threw out the potential tying run at home in the bottom of the 10th when automatic runner Kevin Newman tried to score from second base on Oneil Cruz‘s line single off the glove of first baseman Alec Burleson. The ball deflected to second baseman Brendon Donovan, who threw home to catcher Andrew Knizner.

The Pirates challenged the call, but it was upheld on video review.

“I thought we were going to get it overturned,” Newman said. “I just thought he didn’t tag me until he got higher up on the body.”

It was the Pirates’ 100th loss, the second year in a row they have reached that mark.

The Cardinals got two hits each from Donovan, Corey Dickerson, Knizner and Paul DeJong.

Cruz had three hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds, Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Ji-Hwan Bae added two apiece. Miguel Andujar drove in two runs.

Chris Stratton (10-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“They weren’t the prettiest two innings I’ve ever pitched but I got a great play from the defense in the 10th inning to help me out,” Stratton said. “It was a good play all the way around.’

Pujols’ hit put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 but the Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom of the third. Andujar’s run-scoring double highlighted an inning that includes RBI singles by Castro, Suwinski, Ben Gamel and Bae.

The Cardinals then scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 7-all. Donovan hit an RBI single, Dickerson drove in two runs with a double and the tying run scored on a throwing error by Cruz, the rookie shortstop.

Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson was rocked for seven runs and nine hits while the Pirates’ JT Brubaker allowed three runs on four hits.

Brubaker was activated from the injured list before the game. He had been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.

HELSLEY HURT

Reliever Ryan Helsley, the Cardinals’ closer, left in the eighth inning with a jammed right middle finger. Helsley was injured after catching a line drive by Bae and using his hands to brace himself while dodging a piece of a broken bat.

Helsley said he expects to be ready to pitch Friday.

“I don’t think there was anything super wrong with it,” Helsley said. `Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Pirates optioned right-hander Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Brubaker. They also recalled infielder/outfielder Tucapita Marcano from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Jose Godoy to the same club.

PIRATES AWARDS

Center fielder Bryan Reynolds was voted the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, emblematic of the Pirates’ MVP, by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mitch Keller won the Steve Blass Award for best pitcher. Former infielder Michael Chavis was voted the Chuck Tanner Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill (strained right hamstring) has been ruled out for the wild-card series but St. Louis is hopeful he can play in the NLDS round if it advances. . 3B Nolan Arenado (left quadriceps tightness) missed his second straight game but could play Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Have not decided on a starter for Wednesday, though Marmol said LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.46) and RHP Jake Woodford (4-0, 2.33) are possibilities.

Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (4-3, 3.12), who was acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 1, gets the start.