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Cards’ Pujols hits 700th home run, 4th player to reach mark

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8 minute read

By Beth Harris in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (AP) — St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th home run, connecting for his second drive of the game and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history as the Cardinals routed the Los Angeles Dodgers 11-0 Friday night.

Playing the final days of his last big league season, the 42-year-old Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

A man wearing a blue Dodgers shirt with Hideo Nomo’s No. 16 on the back snagged the 700th homer ball. He was whisked under the stands as he clutched a black glove containing the historic souvenir ball to his chest. Prolonged negotiations went on before the man was escorted out of Dodger Stadium flanked by 10 security personnel and into a waiting SUV.

Showing the pop from his younger, dominant days, Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth.

A 37-year-old Los Angeles man, Cesar Soriano, snagged No. 699. He turned the ball over to security after being told he could meet Pujols.

It’s been a remarkable and resurgent run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Fairly recently, many considered him a long shot to reach 700 this season. He went into August batting only .235 with just seven home runs.

But with two long shots on this evening, he made his mark.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first couple rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

He jogged around the bases smiling all the way. After crossing the plate and pointing his fingers skyward, Pujols went over to greet fellow Dominican and former Dodgers star Adrian Beltre. They high-fived through the protective netting.

Then he was off to the Cardinals dugout, getting hugs and congratulations every step of the way.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd — he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The crowd of 50,041 chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” The fans finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

His 700th homer gave him a couple of other nice, round numbers, too — he has hit 500 home runs off right-handers and 200 off lefties.

Pujols connected twice on the same night New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge remained on deck for home run history. He remained at 60 homers, just short of tying Roger Maris’ AL mark of 61 in 1961, in a win at Yankee Stadium.

Lars Nootbaar, Juan Yepez and Alec Burleson also homered for St. Louis.

Pujols struck out swinging in his first at-bat against Heaney and grounded out to short in the sixth. He was replaced in the eighth by Burleson, who added a pinch-hit homer.

José Quintana (6-6) got the victory. He scattered five hits over 6 2/3 innings and struck out six.

Cardinals outfielder Corey Dickerson pitched the ninth. With the bases loaded, he retired Trayce Thompson on a flyball to end the game.

Heaney (3-3) took the loss for the NL West-leading Dodgers.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the career list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

The three-time NL MVP was batting .189 on July 4. But he started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a productive season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 — one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Dodgers: All-Star RHP Tony Gonsolin (forearm) will throw two innings in a rehab assignment Tuesday for Triple-A Oklahoma City. … LHP David Price (wrist) will throw to live hitters again in a couple days.

HONORING ALBERT AND YADI

The Dodgers honored Cardinals teammates Pujols and catcher Yadier Molina, both of whom are retiring at season’s end.

The players were greeted by a standing ovation when they strode to home plate before the game. Their career highlights were shown on the stadium’s big screens.

Both players were presented with white golf bags before Pujols took the mic and thanked his former teammates and fans for treating him well during his lone season in LA last year.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: LHP Jordan Montgomery (8-5, 3.26 ERA) makes his second road start with the team since coming from the Yankees. He tossed a one-hit shutout in his other one against the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22 in a 1-0 victory.

Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (9-3, 2.39) makes his 20th start of the season. He has 117 strikeouts in 109 1/3 innings.

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AP freelance writer Jolene Latimer contributed to this report.

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Alberta

Connor McDavid’s four-point effort leads Oilers to 8-2 rout of Coyotes

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EDMONTON — Connor McDavid had two goals and two assists and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored twice and had an assist as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Arizona Coyotes 8-2 on Wednesday.

Derek Ryan, Leon Draisaitl, Bret Kulak and Klim Kostin also scored for the Oilers (15-12-0) who have won five of their last seven games.

Jack McBain and Shayne Gostisbehere responded for the Coyotes (7-13-4) who finished off an epic 14-game road trip with their sixth consecutive loss.

The Oilers got off to a good start with a power-play goal just 4:37 into the opening period as Nugent-Hopkins sent a wrist shot through a screen in front that beat Coyotes netminder Connor Ingram.

Edmonton added to its lead with 3:19 minutes remaining in the first frame as Ryan shrugged off a defender and scored on a backhand shot.

The power play clicked again for the Oilers 8:14 into the second period as McDavid sent it through to Draisaitl and he scored from a tight angle for his 18th goal of the season. McDavid recorded his 50th point in just the 27th game of the season, the fastest Oiler to hit that mark since Wayne Gretzky in 1987-’88.

Arizona got on the board with 6:17 to play in the second period. McBain made a nice move in tight to deposit it past an outstretched Stuart Skinner in the Oilers net.

Edmonton got that goal back just 23 seconds later, however, as Kailer Yamamoto stole a puck at the Arizona blue line and sent Nugent-Hopkins in alone for his second of the night and 13th of the season.

The Oilers went up 5-1 with 1:21 to play in the second as Kulak blistered a shot high to the glove side that went off the bar and in.

Edmonton had a 30-10 edge in shots after 40 minutes.

The Oilers kept the pressure on in the third period as Ryan stripped a puck that went to Kostin in front and he deposited his second goal of the season past Ingram at 3:19.

McDavid extended his goal streak to six games a couple minutes later, taking a pretty pass from Draisaitl behind the net before scoring on the wraparound.

The Oilers captain made it a four-point game with seven minutes left in the third, as McDavid took a feed from Hyman and scored on a one-timer for his 24th goal of the season.

Arizona scored with just over five minutes to play as Gostisbehere tipped in a Christian Fischer shot.

Kostin fought Zack Kassian in the final minute, giving him the “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” on the night with a fight, goal and an assist.

ROAD TRIP

The Coyotes’ 14-game road trip started on Nov. 5, lasted 33 days, and tied an NHL record for the longest in history with the Vancouver Canucks. Arizona started the trip with three wins before going 1-7-3 after that.

FIRST GOAL

Scoring first has been a challenge for both teams this season, as they came into the game having each allowed the first goal 15 times. Edmonton had managed to overcome the deficit more successfully with a record of 6-9-0, while Arizona was 2-11-2 in those situations.

HYMAN RETURNS

Zach Hyman returned to the Edmonton lineup, but the Oilers remained without forwards Evander Kane (wrist), Warren Foegele (undisclosed) and Ryan McLeod (undisclosed).

UP NEXT

Both teams play next on Friday night. The Coyotes finally return to Arizona to host the Boston Bruins. The Oilers close out a four-game homestand against the Minnesota Wild.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

Shane Jones, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Andersson’s three-point night helps Calgary Flames to 5-3 win over Minnesota Wild

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CALGARY — Rasmus Andersson notched the game-winner at 15:57 of the third period and added two assists as the Calgary Flames overcame a disastrous start in a 5-3 comeback victory over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday.

Tyler Toffoli with a pair, including an empty netter, Nazem Kadri and Blake Coleman also scored for Calgary (13-10-3). Elias Lindholm had three assists.

The Flames have won three games in a row and earned eight points on their five-game homestand.

Kirill Kaprizov extended his goal streak to seven games for the Wild – tops in the league this season. Mason Shaw and Jon Merrill also scored for Minnesota (13-10-2), which had its four-game winning streak come to an end.

Making his sixth start in the last eight games, Dan Vladar gave up two goals on his first three shots. He settled in and finished with 25 saves for his fourth straight victory, improving to 5-4-1 on the season.

Marc-Andre Fleury had 22 saves at the other end. His record fell to 9-6-1.

Minnesota was trailing 3-2 when they tied it at 15:45 when Merrill’s point shot deflected in off the stick of Flames defenceman Chris Tanev.

But just 12 seconds later, a Wild turnover behind their net ended up on the stick of Andersson, who cut across the  crease and used his backhand to put the puck just inside the goalpost.

Kaprizov entered the game on an offensive tear with 19 points in his last dozen games. He extended his point streak to 13 games when he tipped in a Matt Dumba point shot just 1:27 into the game.

Both of Kaprizov’s streaks are franchise records.

Less than a minute later, the Wild broke out on a 3-on-1 with Shaw one-timing Connor Dewar’s cross-ice pass past Vladar.

But the Flames overcame the Wild’s fast start to the first period with an even better start to the second.

On a power play that carried over from the first period, Kadri got Calgary on the scoreboard just 16 seconds into the second period when he redirected Lindholm’s hard pass past Fleury.

Coleman tied it after a goalmouth scramble at 1:37.

The Flames moved in front at 3:11 with another power-play goal and another deflection. Toffoli got a piece of Andersson’s heavy slapshot from the blue line.

The Wild had three power-play opportunities later in the period but were thwarted by the Flames’ penalty kill. Entering play, Minnesota was 8-for-19 with the man advantage over the last six games.

BLOWN LEADS AND COMEBACKS

To lose a game in which they scored the first goal and led after the first period is a rarity for the Wild.

Minnesota entered the game with an 8-1-2 mark when scoring first and an 8-0-1 record when leading after 20 minutes.

Calgary improved to 4-6-1 when surrendering the first goal and 3-6-2 when trailing after the first period.

POWER SURGE

After a seven-game stretch where the Flames’ power play was just 2-for-21, they’ve scored two goals in each of the past two games, going a combined 4-for-9 over that span.

UP NEXT

Wild: Head to Edmonton to take on the Oilers on Friday.

Flames: Open a three-game road trip on Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press

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