Cardinals Take Game 3 With A Bang

Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals gave a performance for the record books Saturday night in Game 3 of the World Series. They beat the Texas Rangers 16 to 7. NPR's Mike Pesca reports.

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AUDIE CORNISH, host: Last night was a game to remember for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards walloped the Texas Rangers, 16-to-7, to take a two-games to one lead in the World Series. And if that score wasn't enough, St. Louis star first baseman Albert Pujols put on one of the most impressive displays of offense from a single player in World Series history. NPR's Mike Pesca was at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington for the game and sent this report.

MIKE PESCA: For two tight games in St. Louis, the Cardinals and Rangers treated every 90 feet as if it were hard fought World War I battleground. Five runs were scored in game one, three in game two. Last night, in the fourth inning alone, the Cards and Rangers combined for seven. The St. Louis half the inning started with an Albert Pujols single, a shot to left, which was the first baseman's first hit of the series, off the schnide and into the stratosphere. But that wouldn't become apparent until after a few key plays in the fourth. The batter who follows Pujols in the lineup, Matt Holliday, grounded into what looked like a double play, with Rangers' first basemen Mike Napoli coming off the bag to tag Holliday on the shoulder. But first base umpire Kulpa blew the call, he later admitted. Umpire Kulpa's first name is Ron, not Mea, for those of you scoring at home. Holliday would come around to score and then, with the bases loaded, Napoli uncorked a terrible throw home.

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JOE BUCK: Slow roller. Napoli will come home and it's a bad throw. Gets away and two runs are going to score.

PESCA: That's Joe Buck of Fox TV with the call. The errant throw and some poor pitching, which would prove to be a theme of the night, added up to a five to nothing Cardinals lead. From there, the Rangers would pull close, but never even - and the big bat of Albert Pujols was the main reason why. Pujols doinked a three-run homer off the club seats in left field. In the seventh, he blasted a two-run shot to center, and in the ninth he stepped up to the plate with his team up by eight. At that point, the audience was composed mostly of Cards fans and assorted others who thought maybe they'd glimpse history. They did.

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PESCA: After key plays, reporters in the press box hear from a PA announcer who provides pertinent information.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: That's the fourth three-homer game in World Series history and the third player to do it. Babe Ruth did it in game four of both the...

PESCA: It took so long for the announcer to list Pujols's accomplishments that Matt Holliday, the Cardinals' left fielder, had time to strike out, jog to his position in left, and still hear the listing of historic facts.

MATT HOLLIDAY: I heard he's the first since Paul Molitor with five hits. I have the luxury of playing left field where I can hear the little media announcers...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HOLLIDAY: ...talking the whole time. So, in the ninth inning, I'm like, first hitter since 1926, so I had all the stats before you guys or about the same time y'all did.

PESCA: Pujols, ever the humble slugger, deferred credit.

ALBERT PUJOLS: This is no an individual game. This is a team effort. Hopefully, you know, let the barrel of the bat catch the ball and maybe go out of park, you know.

PESCA: It was left to Pujols manager, Tony La Russa, to describe how impressive the performance was.

TONY LA RUSSA: Has somebody had a better day than this ever in the World Series? I mean, I don't want to disrespect Babe or Reggie, that's good company right there. But, well, that's the greatest night in World Series history.

PESCA: If all of Pujols's home runs were stacked end to end, they'd be the third tallest building in the U.S. Like Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson, he hit three home runs in a single World Series game, but unlike them he had five total hits and 14 total bases - the most ever. It was a spectacular showing, which cannot, of course, be carried over. The series lead the Cardinals enjoy does include the greatest slugging performance in a World Series game, but as the teams know when they face each other tonight, it's still just a two games to one lead. Mike Pesca, NPR News, Arlington, Texas.

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CORNISH: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

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