Series: Game 3 of 3

St. Louis won 2-1

Game 1: Friday, April 14
St. Louis0
Game 2: Saturday, April 15
St. Louis9
Game 3: Sunday, April 16
St. Louis8

Reds 7

(7-5, 3-3 away)

Cardinals 8

(7-5, 4-2 home)

2:15 PM ET, April 16, 2006

Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri 

123456789 R H E
CIN 100030030 7 12 1
STL 200030102 8 13 2

W: B. Looper (1-0)

L: D. Weathers (0-1)

Pujols' third homer in ninth lifts Cards past Reds 

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Albert Pujols hit three home runs, including a winning drive that erased a ninth-inning deficit and put an exclamation point on the St. Louis Cardinals' first homestand at new Busch Stadium.

Buster Olney's Blog
That's it. From now on, Albert Pujols is going to be getting the Barry Bonds treatment, which means he'll see about one strike per series, and a whole lot of walks.

To read more of Buster Olney's blog, click here. Insider

Then he did a little dance a few steps in front of home plate before teammates mobbed him.

"Hey, you get a walkoff home run, you get to do whatever you want," Pujols said after his two-run drive Sunday gave St. Louis an 8-7 win over the Cincinnati Reds. "You need to be excited about it. You don't get too many of those, so you need to enjoy them when they come."

Pujols' eighth homer came on a 1-2 fastball from David Weathers (0-1) and traveled an estimated 441 feet, ending a game that had five lead changes. His second career three-homer game and sixth game-ending homer topped off a 4-2 opening homestand at the $365 million ballpark. He matched career highs with five RBI and four runs.

"There's a new memory for new Busch," manager Tony La Russa said. "It'll be tough to top that one."

Pitcher Jason Marquis, who hit .310 last year with a homer and 10 RBI, got a chance to pinch hit because of Jim Edmonds' sore shoulder, and he led off the ninth with a pinch single. The only doubt on Pujols' blast was whether it would stay fair, and it ended up about 10 feet fair and in the second deck.

Pujols relished the moment, although he wasn't interested in comparing this game to his other three-homer game, at Chicago on July 20, 2004.

"It doesn't remind me because that was two years ago," he said. "I hit three in spring training and I don't even care. Hopefully, tomorrow I hit three more and forget about today. Who knows?"

Rich Aurilia's two-run double in the eighth, one batter after right fielder Juan Encarnacion botched a potential double-play flyout when he dropped the ball, had put the Reds in front. Aurilia had three hits, and Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns homered on consecutive at-bats in the fifth for Cincinnati, which lost consecutive games for the first time this season.

Pujols and Scott Rolen connected on consecutive at-bats in the bottom of the fifth for the Cardinals. Pujols has 14 multihomer games, including two this season -- on opening day at Philadelphia.

Encarnacion was relieved that Pujols had a third homer in him.

"I just dropped it, no excuses," Encarnacion said. "He made me feel much better."

Weathers, who had been 3-for-3 in save opportunities, said Pujols hit a pitch that wasn't inside enough. He refused to work the NL MVP carefully.

"Not at all, not at all, I don't pitch that way," Weathers said. "He's a great hitter, but if you make your pitch, you can get a double play. It was just a bad pitch and he hammered it."

Mark Mulder and Bronson Arroyo, pitchers who have combined to hit three homers this season, gave up two long balls apiece and failed to get the ball out of the infield in their at-bats. Both labored through five shaky innings.

John Rodriguez added a two-run triple for the Cardinals.

Dunn hit a two-run shot on a full count with two outs in the fifth for his seventh homer. He had five hits on the Reds' trip, all of them homers, going 5-for-21 with 10 strikeouts. Kearns, who is 8-for-17 in his last four games with two homers and seven RBI, also connected on a full count for his fourth homer and a 4-2 lead for the Reds.

The Reds victimized three pitchers in the eighth, with Quinton McCracken's leadoff pinch homer coming off Adam Wainwright and Aurilia's double coming against Braden Looper (1-0).

Both teams were again without their starting center fielders. Edmonds missed his second game with right shoulder soreness after receiving a cortisone shot on Friday night, and Ken Griffey Jr. missed his fourth straight start for the Reds with stiffness behind his right knee.

Both could return to the lineup on Monday. Reds manager Jerry Narron said Griffey had been available to pinch hit.

Arroyo, the first pitcher in major league history to hit a homer and earn a victory in each of his first two starts, labored for 94 pitches and is 0-2 with an 8.55 ERA in six career appearances against St. Louis. He allowed five runs, six hits and three walks with three strikeouts and was hitless in two at-bats.

Game notes

Dunn and Kearns were the last duo to hit consecutive homers against the Cardinals, doing it in the regular-season finale at old Busch Stadium on Oct. 2, 2005. ... The last time the Cardinals hit consecutive homers also came in that game, by Reggie Sanders and Chris Duncan. ... Mulder was struck below the right knee on a comebacker in the fourth and limped around for a few minutes before resuming. He doesn't expect it to affect his next start.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press