ST. LOUIS (AP) — Albert Pujols had an absolute blast. And not at the plate this time, either.
The longtime slugger made his first career pitching appearance Sunday night, closing out a 15-6 blowout for the St. Louis Cardinals over the San Francisco Giants that gave Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina the major league record for wins by a starting battery.
Molina homered and drove in four runs, Wainwright tossed six effective innings and St. Louis roughed up Carlos Rodón early. Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado each added a two-run homer for the Cardinals, who took two of three in the series after losing two of three to struggling Baltimore. Goldschmidt had three RBIs.
Pujols, the Cardinals’ designated hitter, entered to pitch in the ninth inning for the first time in his 22-year career. He gave up a three-run homer to Luis Gonzalez and a solo shot to Joey Bart but managed to get the final three outs with plenty of margin to spare.
“A dream come true to say that I did it,” said Pujols, fifth on the career list with 681 home runs. “It was fun. It wasn’t fun giving up two bombs. I think the fans had a good time. I’m sure the guys that took me deep did, too.”
The 42-year-old Pujols became the oldest player to make his pitching debut since Lena Blackburne brought himself in at age 42 in his final game as a player/manager for the 1929 Chicago White Sox.
With the Cardinals ahead by 13 and the outcome all but decided, Pujols overheard manager Oliver Marmol asking for someone to throw the final inning so the team could avoid using another reliever.
“They were looking and I was like, `I’Il do it. Why not?’” Pujols said.
He took plenty of good-natured ribbing from teammates.
“He’s got to keep the ball down,” Molina screamed in…