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

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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.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.