Pujols strikes 2 o’clock, Molina throws, Matz hurts, Cards top Bucs

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Albert Pujols hit two homeruns, then caught the warmup pitch when star catcher Yadier Molina made his first pitching appearance to end the St. Louis Cardinals’ 18-4 romp over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

Molina gave up a pair of homeruns and four runs while working on the ninth inning, eventually completing the Cardinals’ three-game sweep.

But it wasn’t all fun and games for St. Louis. Starter Steven Matz only lasted four throws before being pulled into his left shoulder with stiffness.

Pujols increased his career home runs to 683. Pujols batted for Nolan Arenado with St. Louis leading 11-0 in the fifth inning, launching a 425-foot drive from the roundabout into left field.

The 42-year old slugger added a three-run homer in the ninth off of Pirates infielder Josh VanMeter in the ninth. Pujols is fifth on the all-time home run list, 13 behind Alex Rodriguez in fourth, and his 32 at PNC Park is an opponent’s most.

Exactly one week after Pujols took the mound for the first time in his big league career, it was Molina’s turn with St. Louis leading 18-0. Pujols sat behind the plate between turns to warm up to his old teammate.

A perennial All-Star and Gold Glover at catching pitches, 39-year-old Molina didn’t do too well throwing them. He gave up a solo homer to Yoshi Tsutsugo and a three-run drive to Jack Suwinski.

Overall, Molina gave up four hits in his one inning, throwing 14 of 20 pitches for strikeout, without strikeout or walk. Pujols also gave up four runs and two homeruns in one inning while ending a loss from San Francisco on Sunday-evening.

After Matz left the field, Angel Rondón (1-0) went in to strike out Ke’Bryan Hayes on his first delivery. Rondón gave up only one basehit in five innings for his first win in the majors, striking out four and walking three.

After being recalled from the taxi squad for the game, Rondón made his third Major League appearance and the first since June 12, 2021.

Acclaimed prospect Nolan Gorman doubled up in the first to put the Cardinals ahead with his first Major League RBI. He had three hits and went 5 for 10 with two doubles in his first series in the majors

Tommy Edman also had three of the Cardinals’ 20 hits. He hit two doubles and helped a six-run second against Bryse Wilson (0-3).

Harrison Bader also homered off VanMeter, who made his first pitching appearance in the majors and gave up five runs in the ninth. Usually a second baseman and outfielder, VanMeter was used as a catcher for the first time in an emergency.

MOVE ROSTER

Cardinals LHP Matthew Liberatore was chosen for Triple-A Memphis. He gave up four runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and two walks in 4 2/3 innings during his Major League-debut on Saturday.

TRAINERS ROOM

Pirates SS Kevin Newman had a setback while recovering from a left groin injury with Triple-A Indianapolis. The new injury is in the hamstring area, said general manager Ben Cherington.

NEXT ONE

Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (3-2, 1.68) takes the mound on Monday as St. Louis heads home for the first of two games against the Toronto Blue Jays. Mikolas allowed no more than two earned points in eight starts this season.

Pirates: RHP JT Brubaker (0-4, 5.50) is expected to start Monday in the first of a three-game set against the Colorado Rockies. His most recent win came on August 24 of last season.

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