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Cards slugger DHing in Arlington

ARLINGTON, Texas -- St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert
Pujols returned to the starting lineup as the designated hitter
Friday night against the Texas Rangers after missing four games
with a strained left hamstring.

Pujols injured his leg running the bases in the sixth inning of
St. Louis' 3-2 loss Sunday to Houston. The Cardinals went 2-2
without him.

He batted third Friday night and grounded out in his first
at-bat.

Pujols said he's going to take it easy his first few games back.

"I'm not 100 percent, but I can go out there and play under
control," Pujols said.

The injury came during a recent offensive surge for Pujols. He
had hit five homers in nine games to boost his total to 17.

Pujols had reached base in 23 straight games and had three
four-hit performances in a nine-game span to boost his average up
to .325 entering Friday.

He had not missed a start this season before the injury.

"I'm glad and I'm happy to be back," Pujols said. "Hopefully,
I'll keep it going the way it was before I got hurt."

Pujols has finished second in NL MVP voting the past two
seasons.