Archive for Monday, June 22, 2009

Pujols continues mastery of K.C.

Slugger smashes 2 home runs; La Russa wins No. 2,500

June 22, 2009

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— Albert Pujols comes through Kansas City once a season. The Royals wouldn’t be too disappointed if he never came back.

Pujols finished off a three-day romp in Kansas City with two homers and six RBIs, helping the St. Louis Cardinals rout the Royals, 12-5, Sunday in win No. 2,500 for manager Tony La Russa.

“He’s the best hitter in the game,” K.C.’s Gil Meche said.

Pujols made a mockery of Kansas City pitching in his return to the town where he went to high school, hitting three homers and driving in 10 runs in the Cardinals’ three-game sweep over their cross-state rivals.

The two-time NL MVP had four hits Sunday and delivered the decisive blow in the Cardinals’ eight-run fourth inning, pounding his club record-tying third grand slam of the season off a window on the Royals Hall of Fame in left. He also had a run-scoring single in the first and added his major league-leading 26th homer — eighth in 10 games — in the fifth to put the Cardinals up, 12-4.

“It’s nothing special. I’m just seeing good pitches and hitting them,” said Pujols, who has 12 homers in 27 career games at Kauffman Stadium.

Pujols tied Stan Musial’s team record of nine career grand slams and matched the season mark of three shared by Jim Bottomley (1925), Keith Hernandez (1977) and Fernando Tatis (1999). His fifth multihomer game this season — 28th career — helped La Russa join Connie Mack (3,831) and John McGraw (2,763) as the only managers with 2,500 career victories.

“He does it over and over again and it’s impossible to describe how great he is,” said La Russa, who has 1,180 wins in 14 seasons with St. Louis. “Albert’s amazing.”

Pujols wasn’t the only one hitting on this day.

Khalil Greene, feeling good after missing 19 games with social anxiety disorder, homered for the third straight game, but had to leave in the fourth inning after being hit on the right knee by a pitch. The Cardinals roughed up Meche (4-6) early and finished with 13 hits for their eighth win in 11 games.

The outburst made a winner of Adam Wainwright (8-4) even though he gave up five runs and eight hits in six innings. It wasn’t much of a surprise. The Cardinals have scored 36 runs in the right-hander’s past three starts and average an NL-best 6.85 per game when he’s on the mound.

“Early on, he just didn’t have enough bite on his pitches,” La Russa said. “But he’s got great guts and he hung in there.”

Meche followed one of his best career performances with one of his worst.

Coming off a 132-pitch four-hitter against Arizona that pushed his scoreless streak to 16 innings, the right-hander allowed a career-high nine runs and nine hits in 32⁄3 innings.

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