Albert Pujols may have passed the Easter Bunny in popularity on Sunday. The Cardinals first baseman launched three home runs, including a walk-off homer, to lead St. Louis to a wild 8-7 win over the Reds.
Pujols lifted his final blast just right of the foul pole in left field after pinch-hitter Jason Marquis reached on a single. As he rounded the bases, the Cardinals dugout emptied and gathered around home plate and mobbed once Pujols scored game-winning run. Reds reliever David Weathers served up the homrer.
Pujols is tied for the major league in homers (8) and RBI’s (17).
The Cardinals trailed 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth when Pujols went deep for the first time. His two-run shot tied the game a 4-4.. Scott Rolen was up next and hit a solo shot to give St. Louis the lead.
In the top half of the inning, Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns also hit back-to-back home runs to give the Reds the lead.
It stayed 5-4 until Pujols hit a solo shot off Rick White in the bottom of the seventh inning.
As exciting as Pujols’ performance was, his third home run might not have been necessary if right fielder Juan Encarnacion hadn’t made a critical error in the eighth inning. Quinton McCracken’s a solo homer off Adam Wainwright in the top of the inning cut the Cardinals advantage to 6-5. Later, with one out and Ryan Freel racing to second base on a hit and run, Felipe Lopez belted a routine line drive to Encarnacion for what should have been an easy double play. But Encarnacion let the ball bounce off his glove and Freel, who would have been easily thrown out at first for the final out, raced to third. Rich Aurilia was up next and doubled Freel and Lopez in to give the Reds a 7-6 lead.
Braden Looper allowed a hit, a walk and no runs over 1 2/3 inning to get the win, while Weathers was charged with the loss.