Pujols powers Cards with three HRs

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

ST. LOUIS -- Albert Pujols homered in his first three at-bats to end a prolonged slump, leading the St. Louis Cardinals over the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-3 Sunday.

Pujols connected with the bases empty in the first, and hit two-run drives in the third and fifth, all off Ian Snell (12-9). He is 4-for-6 with four homers and seven RBIs against Snell, and with 42 homers reached the 40-mark for the fourth straight season. It was his third three-homer game, his second of the season.

Philadelphia's Ryan Howard homered in his first three at-bats in a doubleheader opener against Atlanta. It was the first time two players homered three times on the same day since Pujols and Cleveland's Travis Hafner did it on July 20, 2004.

Pujols missed a bid for a fourth homer in the seventh with a drive to left that was caught by Jason Bay just shy of the warning track.

Pujols, who also homered three times against Cincinnati on April 16, entered in an 8-for-38 slump with only two-extra base hits in 10 games since homering twice and driving in a career-best seven runs on Aug. 22 at New York. He has been hampered somewhat by elbow soreness, although he has not missed any games.

Pujols scored his 100th run on the third homer, giving him 100 or more in each of his six seasons. He's the only player in major league history to hit 30 homers, score 100 runs and bat .300 in his first five seasons, and he is batting .321 this year.

-- AP

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