Pujols hits 3-run HR, Cards overcome absences, beat Jays 6-1
TORONTO (AP) — Albert Pujols hit a three-run homer and finished with three hits, passing Rogers Hornsby on St. Louis’ career list, and the Cardinals stopped Toronto’s seven-game win streak with a 6-1 victory over the Blue Jays on Wednesday night.
Adam Wainwright pitched seven sparkling innings to help St. Louis earn a split of the two-game set while playing without unvaccinated sluggers Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. Nolan Gorman homered, and Dylan Carlson and Lars Nootbaar each hit an RBI double.
Foreign nationals who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 are not allowed to enter Canada, save for limited exceptions that require a 14-day quarantine. Unvaccinated baseball players are placed on the restricted list, where they are not paid and do not accrue major league service time.
Goldschmidt, Arenado, and catcher Austin Romine, who all went on the restricted list Tuesday, will be eligible to return when the Cardinals begin a three-game series at Washington on Friday.
Facing Blue Jays right-hander Kevin Gausman, Pujols singled in the second and doubled in the fourth. The hits were his 2,110th and 2,111th with the Cardinals, moving him past Hornsby for fourth-most in franchise history.
“That’s what you’re hoping for, is him to step up and be able to carry us at a time when we didn’t have Goldy and Nolan, and he did exactly that,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “He knew what was on the line and that we were going to have to depend on him.”
Gausman left after walking Tyler O’Neill in the fifth and Pujols greeted Trevor Richards with his seventh homer of the season and No. 686 for his career. Pujols ranks fifth on baseball’s homer list, 10 behind Alex Rodriguez.
“He’s unbelievable,” Wainwright said of Pujols. “He might be old but he can still hit.”
An 11-time All-Star and three-time NL MVP, Pujols flied out to center in his final at-bat in the seventh.
“I’m ready to hit wherever they put me in the lineup,” said Pujols, who batted fourth in both games against the Blue Jays.
Pitching in Toronto for the first time since June 24, 2010, Wainwright (7-8) allowed one run and five hits for his first victory since June 27 against Miami. He bounced back nicely after allowing a season-worst seven runs in his previous outing, a loss at Cincinnati.
“Just a great opportunity to go out and prove that I still had what it takes to be a great pitcher in this game,” Wainwright said. “I had a good curveball tonight, good cutter. Still got to work on fastball command a bit but my spin was good tonight.”
Bo Bichette’s two-out RBI single in the fourth brought home Toronto’s lone run.
Gausman (7-8) allowed five runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. He has won just once in his past four outings.
“Obviously, I was in the clubhouse a lot earlier than I wanted to be,” Gausman said.
Gorman hit an opposite-field homer off Gausman to begin the fifth, his 10th.
Cardinals: C Yadier Molina (right knee) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Memphis on Thursday and could be activated next week, Marmol said. … OF Harrison Bader will be shut down for several weeks because of plantar fasciitis in his right heel, Marmol said.
Wainwright, who has pitched in both Canada and Mexico, won a game outside the United States for the first time.
JUST A NUMBER
At 42 years, 192 days, Pujols is the oldest player to hit a home run at Rogers Centre/SkyDome, which opened in 1989.
Toronto is 11-11 in July. The Blue Jays lost nine of their first 11 games this month.
Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. swiped second in the fourth for his first stolen base of the season.
Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (7-8, 2.87 ERA) will start Friday’s game at Washington. RHP Aníbal Sánchez (0-2, 6.30 ERA) goes for the Nationals.
Blue Jays: LHP Yusei Kikuchi (3-5, 5.12 ERA) is expected to be activated off the injured list to start Thursday against Detroit. Kikuchi has been out since July 6 because of a strained neck. LHP Tyler Alexander (2-3, 4.05 ERA) starts for the Tigers.
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