Albert Pujols has broken out of his offensive slump with a vengeance.
Pujols became the fourth player to reach 100 home runs in his first three seasons, hitting a two-run shot in Sunday’s 10-7 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cardinals have won five of seven.
Pitcher Woody Williams, Scott Rolen and Eddie Perez also homered for St. Louis as the teams combined for a record nine homers by two teams at Dodger Stadium, which opened in 1962. The previous record was established May 25, 1979, when Los Angeles outhomered Cincinnati 7-1.
Pujols tied Jim Edmonds for the team lead in homers with 29 and joined Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio, Ralph Kiner and Eddie Mathews as the only players with at least 100 homers in their first three big league seasons.
“You don’t explain it,” Edmonds said. “You just know that what you’re watching is a unique thing, and I’m just glad to be a part of it. He’s extremely talented and I love watching him play.
“I mean, he struggles just like everybody else—but when he’s hot, he’s ridiculously hot.”
Pujols is the only player in baseball history to hit at least .300 with 30 homers, 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored in each of his first two big league seasons.
The 23-year-old seems to be well on his way to accomplishing the feat for a third straight season despite enduring a slump leading into the All-Star break.
After lifting his average to .391 with a 4-for-6 performance on June 29, Pujols hit just .182 (8-for-44) over the next 12 games. However, he is batting .529 (9-for-17) with three homers and eight RBIs and seven runs scored over his last six games.
STANDINGS: Cardinals - 2nd place, 3 GB, NL Central. Padres - 5th place, 25 GB, NL West.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Matt Morris (8-6, 4.19 ERA). Morris is mired in one of the worst stretches of his career, going 1-3 with a 9.76 ERA over his last five starts. The 28-year-old right-hander surrendered six runs—five earned—and 10 hits over five innings of a 9-4 loss to Los Angeles on July 10. Morris is 4-0 with a 1.25 ERA in nine career appearances, including seven starts, against San Diego.
PADRES PROBABLE STARTER: Jake Peavy (8-7, 4.55 ERA). Peavy has lost two straight since posting a four-start winning streak. The 23-year-old right-hander allowed six runs and six hits over five innings of an 8-3 loss to Arizona on July 9, striking out five and walking 3. He makes his first career start against St. Louis.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Cardinals - Pujols, .371 avg., 90 RBIs and 86 runs; Pujols and Edmonds, 29 HRs; Edgar Renteria, 24 SBs. Padres - Mark Loretta, .309 avg.; Klesko, 20 HRs and 54 RBIs; Loretta and Xavier Nady, 43 runs; Gary Matthews and Ramon Vazquez, 7 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Cardinals, 3-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Cardinals - 1B-OF Pujols is the eighth-youngest player to reach 100 homers. … The Cardinals are 8-13 against the NL West this season, including a 3-6 road mark. … CF Edmonds missed his second game since the All-Star break because of a sore right shoulder he aggravated while competing in the Home Run Derby in Chicago. He will be examined Monday in San Diego by a team orthopedist. Padres - INF Merloni’s third-inning homer Sunday ended San Diego’s 41-inning homerless streak, dating to July 11. … With his 20th homer Sunday, 1B Klesko became the fourth player to post four 20-homer seasons with the Padres. … RHP Rod Beck converted his 10th save in as many opportunities Sunday and is 1-1 with a 2.09 ERA since joining the Padres on June 2.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Cardinals - 22-27 on the road; Padres - 20-31 at home.
INJURIES: Cardinals - OF Edmonds (shoulder), day-to-day; C Joe Girardi (back), 15-day DL; C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; INF Miguel Cairo (hand), 15-day DL; 2B Fernando Vina (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Eli Marrero (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Russ Springer (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Kiko Calero (foot), 60-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL. Padres - INF Keith Lockhart (back), 15-day DL; OF Jason Bay (wrist), 15-day DL; OF Phil Nevin (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Trevor Hoffman (shoulder), 60-day DL.