World Series Game 3: Pujols Powers Cardinals To Victory

This is a pretty accurate representation of the evening. (Photo by Flickr user joeshlabotnik)

Across the street from Cowboys Stadium, there was a football score at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington tonight. The Cardinals took Game 3 in spectacular fashion, as Albert Pujols tied Babe Ruth and Reggie “Mr. October” Jackson with three home runs in a single World Series game.

The bats were hot and the ball was jumping in Texas, but the hometown team was on the wrong end of the slugfest. The Cardinals jumped ahead early and, after a five-run fourth, scored in every subsequent inning, blasting into a series lead with a 16-7 victory over Texas.

St. Louis returned to their early scoring ways when Allen Craig jacked a solo shot to left in the first. The rest of the inning passed fairly harmlessly for Rangers starter Matt Harrison, allowing only a single to Matt Holliday before getting Lance Berkman to fly out. But it was only the start of what would be a wild evening for both clubs.

The Cardinals would put four more runs on the board in the top of the fourth after a controversial call. Albert Pujols lined a single to left, his first hit of the Series. Matt Holliday followed with a grounder to short, which Elvis Andrus flipped to Ian Kinsler, who made the turn.

Mike Napoli made the leaping catch at first, and reached back into the baseline to slap the tag on Holliday’s shoulder – but first-base umpire Ron Kulpa called Holliday safe. Replays showed Holliday out by nearly a full stride. St. Louis made the break pay off.

Berkman followed with a single, and David Freese doubled down the right field line to drive in Holliday. With first base open, the Rangers opted to intentionally walk Molina in favor of Jon Jay. The center fielder hit a slow roller to the right of the mound, which Napoli tried to throw home for the force; the throw was wide and got past Torrealba, allowing two more runs to score.

Ryan Theriot rolled one through the gap into left, scoring Molina and bringing Furcal to the plate. The shortstop chopped one in front of the mound, and Harrison fielded it cleanly, feeding Torrealba to force Jay at home. It was only the second out. Ron Washington opted to pull Harrison in favor of righty Scott Feldman, who got Craig to ground out and, mercifully, end the inning.

The Rangers were not going to let this aggression stand (man), climbing back into the game with a 3-run fourth. Michael Young led off the bottom of the inning with a solo home run to put Texas on the board. Beltre followed with a single to left, which quickly paid off when Nelson Cruz launched a long ball of his own to right field. A single into right by Napoli prompted Tony LaRussa to hook Lohse, after only three-plus, in favor of Fernando Salas.

A sac bunt and a single put runners at the corners for leadoff hitter Kinsler. But Ian couldn’t get it done; the second baseman flied out to left and Napoli tagged up, but a perfect throw by Holliday nailed him at the plate to end the inning.

St. Louis upped the ante again in the top of the fifth. A single by Pujols and consecutive walks to Holliday and Berkman loaded the bases for the dangerous Freese. Pujols was able to score on the third baseman’s groundout; Molina then ripped a two-run double into left, giving the Cardinals back their lead…

…Which the Rangers promptly began chipping away at again. Back-to-back singles in the bottom of the inning put runners at the corners with none out for Young, who whacked a double past Freese to score Andrus.

LaRussa pulled Salas for Lance Lynn, who quickly gave up an RBI single to Beltre. Lynn struck out Cruz, who homered in the fourth, but allowed a sac fly to Napoli to make it a 2-run ballgame.

Alexi Ogando tried to stem the tide of St. Louis runs in the top of the sixth, but Albert Pujols had other ideas. With one out and two aboard, the Machine launched a moonshot off the second-deck facing in left to give the Redbirds back a five-run lead. A bases-loaded sac fly by Molina would increase the lead to six in the Cardinals’ second ten-batter inning of the game.

Lance Lynn held off the Rangers in the bottom of the sixth, but Mike Gonzalez couldn’t do the same to the Cardinals. Once again, Prince Albert proved his worth; a two-out, two-run shot, Pujols’ second on the night, put the Cardinals ahead by eight.

The two teams traded runs in the next two half-innings, but it was the top of the ninth where history was truly made. With a two-out solo shot, Albert Pujols cemented his place in the record-books alongside Ruth and Jackson with a three-homer, six-RBI World Series game. This breakout slugfest came after Pujols received criticism for not staying to talk to the media after a key error in Game 2.

Game 4 goes down Sunday night at 8pm ET. Edwin Jackson squares off against Derek Holland. Tune in, because – as MLB has been telling us for the past three weeks, and as tonight’s game more than proved – legends are made in October (TM).

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