ST. LOUIS — Albert Pujols said he wasn’t making pitchers pay for mistakes earlier in the season. He’s making them pay now.
Pujols had two home runs and five RBIs to lead the St. Louis Cardinals past the Los Angeles Angels 9-6 on Sunday. It was his 19th multiple home run game and his second in seven games. Six of Pujols’ 15 home runs have come in the that span, including two at Houston on June 3.
“Just put a good swing and just make sure I take advantage of the mistake that they make,” he said. “The last couple of months, they were getting away with that. Now, I’m putting my good swing on it and the ball is going out of the park or I hit a line drive somewhere.”
Pujols hit a two-run home run off starter Jered Weaver in the third inning to tie the game 3-3. His three-run shot in the fifth came against Chris Bootcheck (1-1), who took the loss.
Weaver, who had won his previous four decisions and five of six, left after the third inning with tightness in his lower back. Weaver, who said he does not anticipate missing a start, was the third Angel not to finish a game in the past two days. Garret Anderson (leg) and Casey Kotchman (elbow) left the game Saturday.
Weaver wasn’t surprised Pujols took him deep.
“Anything that catches too much of the zone with him, he’s going to put it where the people want to catch it,” Weaver said.
So Taguchi reached three times, with a single and a walk, and David Eckstein went 3-for-4 from the leadoff spot.
Scott Spiezio started at third in place of Scott Rolen and hit a three-run home run off Hector Carrasco in the seventh. Rolen came in for defense in the eighth.
Eckstein’s single up the middle to start the fifth was his 1,000th career hit and Taguchi reached on a fielder’s choice. That brought up Pujols, who hit a 3-2 pitch into the Angels’ bullpen to give St. Louis a 6-4 lead.
“He had the home run off Weaver on a slider, so I thought I’d take a shot with a fastball,” Bootcheck said. “He’s a great hitter. What else can you say?”
Bootcheck (1-1) had given up one home run in his previous 232/3 innings. He went two innings against the Cardinals, giving up three runs on two hits.
The Angels scored three times in the third off Todd Wellemeyer. Chone Figgins singled to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, scoring Shea Hillenbrand, and Orlando Cabrera followed with a two-run double.
Wellemeyer (2-0) gave up five runs, four earned, on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. It was the longest outing for the converted reliever since the Cardinals put him in the rotation in place of Anthony Reyes.
A day after questioning whether the Angels thought his Cardinals were a legitimate opponent, manager Tony La Russa said Sunday’s performance left little doubt. The Angels scored 19 runs on 35 hits in the first two games.
“I think they walked out of here saying ‘maybe those guys can play a little bit,’” La Russa said. “We looked more like a team that belonged on a major league field.”