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Pujols passes milestone with slam

Pujols passes milestone with slam

ST. LOUIS -- Albert Pujols hit a home run so majestic it deserved two milestones.

Pujols hit a mammoth grand slam in the seventh inning of the Cardinals' 8-2 win over the Cubs on Saturday, giving him 1,002 career RBIs. That makes him the 23rd active player to pass 1,000 Major League RBIs and the 260th all-time. It also moves him past Ken Boyer into fifth place on the Cardinals' career list, trailing only Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, Jim Bottomley and Rogers Hornsby.

"It keeps me humble and it's an honor to have my name with those guys," Pujols said. "They were great when they played this game, and those guys set the bar so high for us to follow. That's the pressure that we have, that we make sure that we represent the organization well and those great players that put this uniform on. I'm really humbled, and it's an honor. And doing it in front of our fans is extra special."

With St. Louis leading Chicago, 3-1, Brian Barden led off the seventh with a single. Rick Ankiel walked, Brendan Ryan sacrificed the runners over and Colby Rasmus worked a walk to load the bases. That brought up Pujols.

Right-hander David Patton opened with a fastball, hoping to get two outs with one pitch, but instead he found himself looking back at a 441-foot shot.

"I just got my mind clear, making sure that I drive a run in, make sure that I stay away from the ground-ball double play," Pujols said. "That's what they tried to do. They tried to come inside with a sinker, and he left it over the plate and I was aggressive with it. There's not too many times that I like to swing at the first pitch, but I saw the ball. ... I was just aggressive, and I'm blessed that I had a good pitch and put a good swing, the best swing of the day."

Pujols obliterated the 95-mph fastball, taking it high into the bleachers behind the visitors' bullpen in left field at Busch Stadium. The ball landed just shy of the walkway that runs behind the left-field bleachers.

Most RBIs in first nine seasons
PlayerTeamYearsRBIs
Al SimmonsAthletics1924-19321,156
Ted WilliamsRed Sox1939-19501,135
Joe DiMaggioYankees1936-19471,122
Hank GreenbergTigers1930-19401,003
Albert PujolsCardinals2001-20091,002

A two-time National League MVP and the reigning holder of the award, Pujols is off to another brilliant start in 2009. His home run was his seventh in 18 games, and he has already amassed 25 RBIs. He's drawn 13 walks against just four strikeouts and has scored 20 runs. Pujols is the 30th player in baseball history to reach 1,000 RBIs before his 30th birthday, and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, he ranks 14th all-time and second among active players behind Manny Ramirez in terms of fastest to 1,000.

"It's a pleasure to watch him play," said manager Tony La Russa. "Actually, it's a pleasure to watch him practice. It's a pleasure to watch him in the clubhouse talking to his teammates. It's a pleasure to watch him in the community."

Pujols became the second player to reach 1,000 career RBIs this season, following the Mets' Carlos Beltran. The grand slam was the eighth of his Major League career, putting him one shy of Musial for the franchise record, and his second this season.

And he did it all on one of the most impressive homers of his impressive career.

"I hit that ball really good," Pujols said. "I'm not going to lie to you. That's all I've got. I hit that ball as good as I can hit a ball."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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