The Cardinals will try to win for the third time in four games when they meet the Texas Rangers in the middle game of their interleague series.
Pujols, who had been out of the lineup since Sunday with a strained left hamstring, returned Friday and went 1-for-5 with an RBI and a run in the Cardinals’ 12-7 series-opening win.
Pujols, the Cardinals’ regular first baseman, served as the designated hitter—allowing Mabry to remain in the lineup at first. Mabry filled Pujols’ role admirably, sparking the offense by going 3-for-4 with a homer and five RBIs.
Mabry is hitting. 353 since being called up from Triple-A Memphis on May 25.
“It’s a great feeling,” Mabry said. “It’s nice to see some of things I’ve been working on come to fruition.”
Pujols, the defending NL batting champion, left without speaking to reporters. Before the game, however, he said he wasn’t going to put too much strain on his injured leg.
“I’m not 100 percent, but I can go out there and play under control,” Pujols said.
The rest of the Cardinals were just glad to see Pujols back in the lineup. St. Louis moved into first place in the NL Central by a half-game over Cincinnati.
“It goes without saying that Albert is a big part of our lineup,” Mabry said. “He’s the kind of player who can take over a game.”
“What are you going to do?” Texas shortstop Michael Young said. “They came out swinging from the get-go and they’ve got a great lineup.”