PITTSBURGH ( Associated Press) — Albert Pujols scored two home runs, then caught a warmup toss when star catcher Yadier Molina made his first pitching performance to close off the St. Louis Cardinals’ 18-4 romp over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.
Molina worked a pair of homers and four runs in the ninth inning, eventually completing the Cardinals’ three-game sweep.
But it wasn’t all fun and games for St. Louis. Starter Steven Matz lasted only four pitches before being pulled up with a tightness in his left shoulder.
Pujols extended his career home run count to 683. Pinch-hitting for Nolan Arenado, with St. Louis 11-0 in the fifth inning, Pujols began a 425-foot drive from left-field rotunda.
The 42-year-old slugger added a three-run homer in the ninth to Pirates fielder Josh Vanmeter in the ninth. Pujols is fifth on the all-time homer list, 13 behind Alex Rodriguez in fourth, and his 32 at PNC Park is the most by an opposing player.
Just a week after Pujols captured the mound for the first time in his big league career, Molina led St. Louis 18–0. Pujols was behind the plate in the middle of the innings to warm up to his longtime teammate.
A perennial All-Star and Gold Glover at catching pitches, Molina, 39, didn’t do well enough at throwing them. He dropped a single homer to Yoshi Tsutsugo and a three-run drive by Jack Suwinsky.
In all, Molina allowed four hits in one of his innings, without a strike or walk, in 14 of the 20 pitches thrown for the strike. Pujol allowed four runs and two homers in an innings while finishing a round at San Francisco last Sunday night.
After Matz’s exit, Angel Rondon (1-0) entered with his first pitch to dismiss Ke’Brien Hayes. Rondon allowed just one hit in five innings for his first win at the Major, scoring four and scoring three.
After being recalled from the taxi squad before the game, Rondon made his third major league appearance and the first since June 12, 2021.
Highly deferred prospect Nolan Gorman doubled down in the first, putting the Cardinals ahead with his first major league RBI. He got three hits and scored 5 for 10 with two doubles in his first series in the Major
Tommy Edman also had three of the Cardinals’ 20 hits. He hit two doubles and assists in the second of six runs against Bryce Wilson (0-3).
Harrison Bader also dismissed Vanmeter, who made his first pitching in the Major and conceded five runs in the ninth. Typically a second baseman and outfielder, Vanmeter was put into duty as a first catcher in an emergency.
Cardinals LHP Matthew Liberator was selected to Triple-A Memphis. He conceded four runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and two walks in 4 2/3 innings during his major league debut on Saturday.
Pirates SS Kevin Newman suffered a blow while rehabilitating a left groin strain with Triple-A Indianapolis. The new injury is in the hamstring area, general manager Ben Charrington said.
Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (3-2, 1.68) will take the mound on Monday as St. Louis are at home for the first two games against the Toronto Blue Jays. Mikolas has not allowed more than two earned runs in eight starts this season.
Pirates: RHP JT Brubaker (0-4, 5.50) is expected to start in the first set of three games against the Colorado Rockies on Monday. Their most recent win came on 24 August last season.
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