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One step closer to history: Albert Pujols hits home run No. 696 while getting closer to the magical 700 . coming

One step closer to history: Albert Pujols hits home run No. 696 as he gets closer to the magical 700 before retirement… and he is now fourth with Alex Rodriguez on the all-time list

  • Albert Pujols continued his march to his 700th home run on Saturday night
  • The Pirates got the Pujols treatment when he hit his 696th home run
  • Pujols is now four runs away from the elusive figure with 22 regular season games to go

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The Pittsburgh Pirates are the last team to get up close and personal with the farewell tour of St. Louis Cardinals star Albert Pujols, and they’re hardly the first to get a reminder of why he’s a true Hall of Famer.

Pujols, who didn’t start in a series-opening 8-2 loss in Pittsburgh on Friday, was back at first base on Saturday in a 7-5 Cardinals win. He went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer and RBI single, which both tied the game. The home run was the 696th of his career and put him in fourth place on the all-time list along with Alex Rodriguez.

The Cardinals (82-58) and Pirates (51-87) will play the deciding game of the three-game series on Sunday, after the Cardinals avoided their first three-game loss series since their worst four-game season error on July 3-6. .

Albert Pujols continues to close history after another great season in its legendary run

Albert Pujols continues to close history after another great season in its legendary run

Pujols looks and points to the sky in honor of his home run at PNC Park

Pujols looks and points to the sky in honor of his home run at PNC Park

Pujols looks and points to the sky in honor of his home run at PNC Park

Saturday’s homerun was the 17th of the season for Pujols, 42, who has named it his last season, but who barely goes meekly.

“It’s a credit to Albert,” Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado, who hit a three-run double in the ninth, told Bally Sports Midwest.

“He really kept us in the game. He was our best player. He’s been the best player for a long time. He just has incredible at bats. … We are so grateful to have him on our team. homers, we don’t get it lights up. It’s a joy to watch.”

It wasn’t such a joy for Pittsburgh, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t respect.

“He’s a really good player, and he’s been a really good player for a long time,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said of Pujols. “There was probably a 10- or 12-year period where he was the best hitter in baseball, and probably one of the best hitters in the history of the game.”

The Cardinals marked their 15th consecutive winning season on Saturday, while the Pirates lost seven of their last nine games.

In the series finale, St. Louis lefthander Jose Quintana (5-6, 3.41 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh righthander Mitch Keller (5-10, 4.22).

The 42-year-old received a rousing reception from Pirates and Cardinals fans on Saturday

The 42-year-old received a rousing reception from Pirates and Cardinals fans on Saturday

The 42-year-old received a rousing reception from Pirates and Cardinals fans on Saturday

Quintana will face his former club for the first time since the Pirates traded him to St. Louis on August 1.

He didn’t need a longer adjustment period – if at all. His last timeout, Tuesday against Washington, he gave up one run and five hits in five innings in a win.

In his career, Quintana is 5-2 with a 3.64 ERA in 12 career starts against Pittsburgh, all with the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs.

The final chapter in Pujols' MLB career plays out in a great way as he hits 700 .  close

The final chapter in Pujols' MLB career plays out in a great way as he hits 700 .  close

The final chapter in Pujols’ MLB career plays out in a great way as he hits 700 . close

Keller continues toward an established role in the rotation. He has allowed three runs or less in 14 of his past 17 starts.

On Tuesday against the New York Mets, he threw six scoreless innings, gave up five hits and earned the win.

Keller is supported by a sinker that works better and better.

“He was navigating some traffic,” Shelton said of Keller’s game against the Mets. “I thought his sinker was really effective and he put the ball on the ground.”

Against St. Louis, Keller is 2-1 with a 4.11 ERA in six career starts. This year he is 0-1 in two starts and has to give up six runs in 9 1/3 innings.

Yadier Molina embraces the Cardinals' historic number 5 after his sixth inning homer

Yadier Molina embraces the Cardinals' historic number 5 after his sixth inning homer

Yadier Molina embraces the Cardinals’ historic number 5 after his sixth inning homer

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