x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Pujols powers St Louis Cardinals to World Series lead

Cards open up a 2-1 lead in the World Series after a hitting masterclass from Albert Pujols, including three home runs, defeats Texas Rangers 16-7.

Albert Pujols celebrates after hitting his third home run of the night against Texas Rangers as St Louis Cardinals open a 2-1 lead in the World Series.
Albert Pujols celebrates after hitting his third home run of the night against Texas Rangers as St Louis Cardinals open a 2-1 lead in the World Series.

DALLAS // Albert Pujols blasted three homers and drove in six runs as the St Louis Cardinals smacked 15 hits and routed the Texas Rangers 16-7 in game three of the World Series.

The Rangers took a 2-1 series lead as both teams' offences went to work last night after combining for just eight runs in the opening two games of the 107th World Series.

Pujols, the Dominican Republic hitter, put on a hitting clinic hammering two 400-foot home runs and going five-of-six, including a monster 423-foot drive that bounced off the front wall in the upper deck in front of a crowd of 51,462 at Rangers Ballpark.

"If you leave the ball up in this park it is going to carry a lot more than in St Louis," Pujols said. "Hopefully at the end of my career I can look back and say, 'Wow what a game it was in Game 3.'"

Pujols had hits in four consecutive innings, becoming the first player in World Series history to do so.

"Has anybody ever had a better day in the World Series?" asked Cardinals' manager Tony La Russa.

Yadier Molina hit two-of-three with two doubles and four RBI for the Cardinals, who are seeking their 11th World Series title in franchise history. Only the New York Yankees, with 27, have more.

St Louis will try to move within one win of the crown when they face Texas in Game 4 tonight.

History is on their side as the winner of pivotal Game 3 has gone on to capture 10 of the last 11 World Series.

Both starting pitchers got roughed up early, but Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison felt the sting more, giving up six hits and five runs in 3 2/3 innings.

Adrian Beltre went four-for-five for the Rangers, who did not score a run in the first three innings.

"We got beat tonight," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "They swung the long one and we couldn't do much about it."

The early innings were highlighted by suspect pitching, infield errors and an apparent missed call by a first base umpire that got the Cardinals' four-run fourth inning started.

But St Louis started to set the tone in the opening inning as Allen Craig continued his clutch hitting with a solo home run in his first at-bat of the game, blasting a 376-foot homer into the left field bleachers.

Craig has hits in his first three at-bats in the World Series, including two almost identical pinch hit RBI singles in games one and two.

The Cardinals got a break from the umpires in a four-run fourth inning.

Matt Holliday took a hard fall at first base after appearing to be tagged out by first baseman Mike Napoli on a double play. But first base umpire Ron Kulpa ruled Holliday safe despite video replays which seem to indicate otherwise.

David Freese then scored Holliday with a double, and reached home plate himself later in the inning on a throwing error by Napoli to make it 4-0 for St Louis.

The Rangers answered with two home runs in their half of the fourth by Nelson Cruz and Michael Young to cut the Cards' lead to 5-3.

Cruz blasted a two-run homer to the right field bleachers which also scored Adrian Beltre — meaning Cruz has now hit home runs in his last four games at home.

But Cards outfielder Holliday prevented the Rangers from tacking on more runs with a double play that included a brilliant throw from left field to catcher Molina who tagged out a sliding Napoli to end the fourth inning.

The teams scored a combined 13 runs in the fourth and fifth innings.

The Rangers are aiming to capture their first World Series title in franchise history but are also trying to take care of some unfinished business after losing in five games in the championship series last year in San Francisco.

The American League teams have won eight of the last 13 World Series.

The pitching matchup for tonight's game four should be a fascinating one as Rangers left-hander Derek Holland (16-5) goes up against Cardinal's right-hander Edwin Jackson (12-9).