With the Cardinals leading, 4-0, in the fourth, Edward Mujica left a 1-1 fastball up and over the outside part of the plate. Pujols did exactly what you're supposed to do with such a pitch, driving it 377 feet into the stands.
"It's a big number, but I don't play for numbers," he said. "I play to try to help my team out to win. Whatever it takes. If I can put up those numbers, great. But at the end of the year, I look at how many of those home runs I can hit to help to put my team on top."
He wasn't finished with being in the middle of things, though. With two outs in the sixth, Venable hit a dribbler up the first-base line. Pujols came in on it and fielded the ball, and tagged Venable as the outfielder passed. He felt that Venable tried to elbow him on the way by. Pujols gave Venable a stare, and Venable took issue.
"I asked him what his problem was," Venable said. "Anytime someone stops to stare at you ... you're wondering what his problem is. I certainly don't care enough about Albert Pujols to continue with anything that might cause friction. It's not that big of a deal, just a lot of nothing."
The two jawed at each other, and the benches and bullpens cleared, though the contretemps didn't escalate. Venable minimized the incident later, and said he didn't try to elbow Pujols. But Pujols was still irritated.
"I didn't say anything," Pujols said. "I just stared at him, and he popped his mouth, cussing everybody. That's when I heard him saying something and I stopped and I looked back. Kids need to learn how to play the game and respect the game, because you do something wrong, you don't have to pop your mouth out there and start cussing everybody out. I think he should respect himself and respect everybody else, his peers."
It certainly was a day the two-time National League Most Valuable Player won't forget.
As for the home run, it's the earliest in Pujols' career that the slugger has reached 40. He hit the number on Aug. 29, 2004, and in September in each of his three other 40-homer seasons. Pujols' career high in long balls is 49 in 2006. Pujols walked in his first two plate appearances on Sunday. On Saturday night, he struck out three times, only the ninth time in his Major League career that he has done so.