LOS ANGELES (AP) — St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run Friday night, connecting for his second practice of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to hit the milestone in major league history.
Pujols, 42, hit No. 699 in the third inning, then pitched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.
With practice in the final days of his final major league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) at one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.
It is a remarkable course for Pujols. It was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals and his 21st of the season.
Pujols’ historic home run was a three-point shot off Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the front rows of the left-field clubhouse, the same spot where his two-run shot touched the previous inning against southpaw Andrew Heaney.
Pujols received an extended standing ovation from the crowd — he finished last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took an encore, raising his cap in recognition.
The supporters chanted “Pujols! Pujol! They finally sat down after getting up waiting to see the story.
Pujols broke a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the roster when he hit career home run No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.
Reaching 700 home runs seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he hit .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his footing in August, smashing seven homers in a 10-game streak that helped St. Louis pull away in the divisional race.
“I know at the start of the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after homering 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 away from you than the game will give back.
“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive, stay focused and trust your work. That’s something I’ve done all the time.
Pujols had a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March on a one-year, $2.5 million deal. It’s his highest total since hitting 23 home runs for the Angels in 2019.
He plans to retire at the end of the season.
Pujols also started his career at Saint-Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 Entry Draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.
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 titles in 2006 and 2011.
He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 home runs in 2009 and topped 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. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and had 38 runs in 85 games.
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