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Cardinals fans give Albert Pujols standing ovation in long-awaited return to St. Louis

By
Connor Grott
Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols tips his helmet to a standing ovation as he comes to bat in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Pujols is returning to St. Louis for the first time since leaving the team in 2011. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols tips his helmet to a standing ovation as he comes to bat in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Pujols is returning to St. Louis for the first time since leaving the team in 2011. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

June 21 (UPI) -- Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols returned to St. Louis after eight years and was greeted by a standing ovation from Cardinals fans.

Pujols, who spent 11 years with the Cardinals, stepped up to the plate at Busch Stadium on Friday night as the Angels battled the Cardinals in an interleague matchup.

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As Pujols entered the batter's box, he greeted the home plate umpire while fans roared during the announcer's introduction of the first baseman. After digging in and tipping his helmet to fans, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina hugged the veteran infielder, generating another thunderous ovation from the crowd.

The ovation spanned Pujols' entire at-bat, which ended when the slugger flied out to deep center field.

Friday's contest marked Pujols' first game in St. Louis since Game 7 of the 2011 World Series, in which the Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers. He left the club to sign with the Angels after the 2011 campaign for a 10-year, $240 million contract.

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Pujols recently became the sixth player in MLB history to smash 200 home runs for two different teams. Entering Friday night, the three-time National League MVP sits at sixth on the league's all-time home run list with 645 long balls.

The Cardinals held a 2-1 lead over the Angels in the bottom of the seventh inning. Pujols was 1-for-2 with a single and a walk before being taken out for a pinch runner.

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