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Cardinals’ Albert Pujols hits his 700th career home run, becoming the fourth Major League player to accomplish a historic feat

LOS ANGELES (AP) — St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in Major League Baseball history.

Pujols, 42, reached No. 699 in the third inning, then pitched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

Building momentum in the final days of his final major league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 home runs), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) at one of the most exclusive clubs in baseball.

It has been a remarkable streak for Pujols. It was his 14th home run since early August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals and 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic home run was a three-run homer off Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the front rows of the left-field pavilion, the same spot where his two-run shot landed in the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a long standing ovation from the crowd — he finished last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, lifting his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols! They finally sat down after standing around waiting to see the story.

Pujols broke a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit home run No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Hitting 700 home runs seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he hit .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP began to find the punch for him in August, hitting seven home runs in a 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis bounce back. away in the division race.

“I know earlier in the year … he obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after hitting a home run in a 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game will take more from you than it gives back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and stay focused and trust your work. That’s something I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a one-year, $2.5 million contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 home runs for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2001.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals win the World Series in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 home runs in 2006, one of only seven seasons with at least 40 home runs. He led the majors with 47 home runs in 2009 and led the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Angels. The Angels released him in May 2021, and he then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 home runs and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.

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