Aug 27, 2010, 9:30 AM EDT
Albert Pujols–the guy keeps trucking along, quietly dominating. When he started out, his homer production probably seemed modest by steroid-era standards (The Machine has yet to go yard 50 times in a single season), but like Hank Aaron before him, Pujols's consistency is his calling card. After becoming the first player in the history of the game to hit 30 longballs in each of his first ten seasons, Pujols set his sights on another nice, round milestone last night against the Nationals: 400 career homers, the third-youngest player ever to accomplish that feat.
Pujols, sitting on 399 since Monday, mercifully spared the nation a long, A-Rodian dramatic pause before the big one by taking Nats starter Jordan Zimmerman yard in the fourth inning. It was one of many dramatic turns in a game that somehow managed to combine elements of both the comeback shenanigans of yesterday's late-surge mania, and the extra-inning shenanigans of the Phils' recent 16-inning death march against the Astros. Shenanigans, people.
Pujols's homer was part of a four-run fourth inning that saw the Cardinals take a 5-3 lead over the Nationals–which, with perennial Cy Young candidate Chris Carpenter on the mound for the Birds, probably seemed like a pretty good start. But the Nats battled back with another five runs by the seventh inning, going into the ninth with an 8-6 lead over the Cards. That's when the fun really started, as Nats closer Drew Storen proceeded to give up four runs in the top of the inning to give the Cards a two-run lead, only to see Cards closer Ryan Franklin respond by allowing a game-tying two-run blast to Roger Bernadinha. Yikes.
From there, things went quiet for a while, as the two offenses sputtered for four extra frames. Then, finally in the bottom of the 13th, Ian Desmond hit a nubber up the middle with the infield in to score Nyjer Morgan from third. Final score: Nationals 11, Cardinals 10. Good news for us, as the Cards remain a full game back of the Phils in the wild card. Bad news for the Redbirds, who have now lost three in a row, and move a full four games back of the dormant Reds.
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