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Albert Pujols predicts, then hits his first Cardinals homer since 2011

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St. Louis Cardinals designated hitter Albert Pujols watches his 680th career home run leave Busch Stadium on Tuesday in St. Louis. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/044f05921062ad748ce4b65a69fa8627/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
St. Louis Cardinals designated hitter Albert Pujols watches his 680th career home run leave Busch Stadium on Tuesday in St. Louis. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

April 13 (UPI) -- Veteran designated hitter Albert Pujols told manager Oliver Marmol he would hit a homer off the first pitch he saw in a game against the Kansas City Royals -- and did just that to spark a St. Louis Cardinals victory.

Pujols pummeled the pitch into the left field stands in the first inning of the 6-5 win Tuesday at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The blast was Pujols' first regular-season round-tripper in a Cardinals uniform since 2011.

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Pujols, who starred for the Cardinals from 2001-11, re-signed with the franchise in March for the final season of his Hall of Fame-level career. At 42, he is MLB's oldest active player.

"He came up to me during batting practice and said 'First pitch I see, I'm hitting it out,'" Marmol told reporters when asked about Pujols's four-bagger. "He is felling good about his swing. His timing is there. .... I believed him. I'll believe him next time, too."

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Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson retired the Royals in order to start the game. Royals starter Daniel Lynch struck out his first two batters, but then allowed a single to Cardinals left fielder Tyler O'Neill. Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado followed with a 386-foot, two-run homer to left field.

Pujols stepped into the box for the next exchange with Lynch. The left-handed pitcher tossed in a 93.3-mph fastball. Pujols dropped his bat through the zone, got under the pitch and drove the ball to left field for a 368-foot solo shot.

"When you have 680 [career homers], sometimes you make those calls," Pujols said of his prediction. "I guess it was a day that I felt good out there. I had a good feeling. Sometimes you get lucky and it happens."

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The Royals tied the game in the top of the second with a solo shot from designated hitter Salvador Perez and a two-run homer from center fielder Michael A. Taylor. Cardinals catcher Andrew Knizner hit a 386-foot, three-run homer off Lynch in the top of the fourth for a 6-3 edge.

The Royals plated one run in the seventh and another in the eighth, but could not overcome the deficit. Cardinals closer Giovanny Gallegos retired the Royals in order in the ninth to earn his first save of 2022.

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Pujols went 3 for 4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Cardinals second baseman Tommy Edman went 2 for 4 in the victory. Taylor and Perez each went 2 for 4 with two RBIs for the Royals.

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Pujols went 0 for 5 in his 2022 debut for the Cardinals on Thursday in St. Louis. His home run Tuesday was his first regular-season long ball for the franchise since a solo shot against the New York Mets on Sept. 22, 2011, at Busch Stadium.

Pujols totaled 445 home runs through his first 11 seasons with the Cardinals. He went on to hit 222 for the Los Angeles Angels and another dozen for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

His 680 career home runs are the most among active players and rank No. 5 all-time, behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and Alex Rodriguez (696).

The three-time MVP ranks No. 3 all-time in RBIs, No. 4 in total bases, No. 5 in doubles and No. 12 in hits. He also ranks second in intentional walks.

The Cardinals (3-1) host the Royals (2-3) in the final game of the series at 1:15 p.m. EDT Wednesday at Busch Stadium.

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