LOS ANGELES — St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th home run Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player in major-league history to reach the milestone.
Pujols, 42, hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.
With the drive in the final days of his last season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.
It has been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals and his 21st of the season.
Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.
Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd — he finished last season playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.
The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.
Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list on Sept. 11 when he hit homer No. 697 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, hitting seven home runs in one 10-game stretch that helped the Cardinals pull away in the division race.
“I know that early in the year ... I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.
“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”
Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March on a one-year, $2.5 million contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the LA Angels in 2019.
He plans to retire after the season.
Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. The Cardinals selected him in the 13th round of the 1999 draft, and he won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.
The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.
He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 — one of seven seasons with at least 40. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.
Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Angels. The Angels waived him in May 2021, and he joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.