St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols drilled the 697th home run of his Major League Baseball career on Sunday, moving to fourth on the all-time list with the go-ahead ninth-inning blast in a 4-3 win over Pittsburgh.
The 42-year-old Dominican delivered his 18th home run of the season and his 14th in the past two months to move past Alex Rodriguez on the career homers list one day after tying A-Rod with No. 696.
Only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) have more career home runs than Pujols, who now has 21 games left in the regular season to reach the 700-homer plateau.
As on Saturday, Pujols’s home run on Sunday was crucial for the Cardinals, who were trailing 2-1 in the ninth when he came to the plate against Chase De Jong.
Pujols smacked a 2-0 fastball to centerfield to give the Cardinals the lead for the first time in the contest.
Pujols said at spring training that this would be his last season after he inked a one-year deal with the Cardinals.
He had starred for 11 seasons in St. Louis before signing a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels, where he stayed until a brief spell with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season.
Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said Pujols’s performance as the team chases the National League Central division title “absolutely legendary.”
Pujols himself, however, remains low-key about it all, and even gave Sunday’s home run ball to the fans who came up with it and tried to give it to him.
“It’s just a baseball,” Pujols said of telling Matt and Samantha Brown to keep the memento. “They deserve to have it. It went out of the ballpark.
“We play this game for the fans. So whether they want to give it back or they want to keep it, I don’t have any problem with that.”