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Puljols hits 200th HR as Cardinals beat Reds

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Albert Pujols reached a couple of home run
milestones, helping the St. Louis Cardinals get back on track
heading into the postseason.

Pujols hit a grand slam in the seventh inning for his 40th homer
of the season and the 200th of his career, rescuing a pitching
staff that surrendered 10 walks in the first six innings of a 12-6
victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.

"Sometimes you get what you deserve," manager Tony La Russa
said. "For 40 to be 200, and to be a grand slam, it's like it's in
the movies."

Reggie Sanders' two-run double snapped a sixth-inning tie and
David Eckstein matched his season high with four hits, drove in two
runs and had a steal for the Cardinals. St. Louis (98-62) is 4-8
since clinching the NL Central and needs to sweep the season-ending
three-game series to reach 100 victories in consecutive seasons for
only the second time in franchise history.

"I know we haven't been playing the way we want the last week
or so but that's part of the season," Pujols said. "We've been so
consistent this year. Hopefully we bounce back, we pick it up."

Pujols' first homer since Sept. 8 came off Matt Belisle in the
seventh and put the Cardinals ahead 11-4. He has four career grand
slams and this one made him, at 25 years and 257 days, the
third-fastest player to reach 200 homers, behind only Hall of
Famers Mel Ott and Eddie Mathews.

In terms of games played, he's the second-fastest to 200 at 4
years and 181 days, trailing only Ralph Kiner, who did it in 4
years, 119 days.

"It doesn't matter," Pujols said. "If I would have had it
tonight or next year, it's just a home run, just like the 199th
home run I hit before that. It's about winning."

Pujols added an RBI single in the fourth to tie his career best
of five RBI.

Mark Mulder, a 16-game winner who will start Game 2 of the
playoffs, matched his career high with seven walks in his second
straight shaky outing. He faced 21 batters in four innings, and
only nine of them put the ball in play -- he also had five
strikeouts.

"I had really good stuff, I just couldn't throw any strikes
with anything," Mulder said. "It was a little frustrating just
because I felt so good."

Edwin Encarnacion, who was 2-for-2 with three walks, walked both
at-bats against Mulder.

"I think the ball moved too much today," Encarnacion said. "I
was looking for strikes and he didn't give them to me."

Mark McGwire made his first appearance at Busch Stadium this
season as part of a final-weekend reunion at the 40-year-old
ballpark. He participated in the stadium countdown, removing the
number 3 from the right-field wall after the end of the fifth.

Felipe Lopez had two hits and two RBI for the Reds, who have
lost five of six. He also committed two errors on a grounder in the
eighth, one for fielding and one for a wild throw that allowed
Hector Luna to go to second.

Al Reyes (4-2) entered with none out and the bases loaded in the
sixth and struck out the 4-5-6 hitters, Rich Aurilia, Jason LaRue
and Austin Kearns, in succession.

Mulder gave up five hits and three runs, but none were earned as
a result of his fielding error on Ryan Freel's two-out bases-loaded
grounder in the fourth that allowed the Reds' first run to score.
The next batter, Lopez, hit a two-run single that put Cincinnati
ahead 3-2.

In his last two outings, Mulder has lasted 5 2/3 innings and
surrendered 10 runs -- seven earned. He loaded the bases on walks in
the fourth, then had a chance to escape on consecutive forceouts at
the plate before the error.

"I'm ready to go," Mulder said. "This won't happen in the
playoffs."

Sanders, who returned from a broken leg on Sept. 12, struggled
with his timing for a while. But in his last four games he has two
homers, two doubles and seven RBI.

Sanders' opposite-field two-run double with two outs off Luke
Hudson (6-9) snapped a 4-all tie in the sixth.

Reds starter Randy Keisler lasted 3 1/3 innings and gave up four
runs and nine hits. Eight of the runs against the Reds were
unearned.

"It just got away from us," manager Jerry Narron said. "With
the lineup they have, you can't afford to give outs."

Game notes
Cardinals reliever Ray King was ejected after walking Adam
Dunn on a full count with the bases loaded in the sixth. Before
leaving, King went to the plate to talk to plate umpire Travis
Reininger. ... McGwire had two entries on the list of top 10
memories at Busch Stadium as decided by on-line fan voting, No. 2
for his 62nd homer in 1998 and No. 10 for his 70th that year. The
No. 1 memory was Ozzie Smith's game-winning home run off the
Dodgers' Tom Niedenfuer in the 1985 playoffs. ... Members of the
1985 team were honored before the game, arriving at home plate in
convertibles. ... Mark Grudzielanek got his 500th career RBI on an
infield hit in the third.