It was a blast from the past for the St. Louis Cardinals in their 18-4 blowout win against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, with future Hall-of-Famers Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina the stars of the show.

It became uncompetitive early on after the Cardinals piled on seven runs across the opening two frames, and another four in the fourth.

Up 11-0 in the fifth inning, Pujols was brought in as a pinch-hitter, and he crushed the second pitch he saw for a 425-foot home run to left-field.

Pujols' day would not end there as he came up to bat again in the ninth inning with two runners on base, and he launched another home run to make it 18-0.

Not wanting to waste the performance of a real pitcher to close the game, the Cardinals brought in 39-year-old catcher Molina to handle the final inning. It was his first career pitching appearance.

He would give up four runs, including a home run to the very first batter he faced, before getting his third out from a deep fly-ball to center-field.

Both Pujols and Molina are members of the Cardinals only two World Series-winning teams since 1982 – in 2006 and 2011 – and will likely have their numbers retired by the club when they hang up their cleats.

All 10 Cardinals players to take an at-bat finished with at least one hit, while Tommy Edman, Nolan Gorman and Brendan Donovan collected three hits each.

After starting pitcher Steven Matz was withdrawn due to injury before retiring a single batter, Angel Rondon came in with a terrific performance out of the Cardinals bullpen, pitching five scoreless innings, striking out four while giving up just one hit and three walks for his first career win.

Dodgers error gifts Phillies the win

The Los Angeles Dodgers needed just one more out to secure a 3-2 extra innings win against the Philadelphia Phillies, but could not field a routine ground-ball.

After Trea Turner's base hit gave the Dodgers a lead in the top of the 10th inning, Evan Phillips was able to get two Phillies out, with runners on second and third.

While a base hit would have won it, Alec Bohm instead hit one along the ground straight to second-baseman Max Muncy, but as he fumbled the ball and was too late to get the out at first base, both runners came home to win the game.

White Sox wake up late

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Michael Kopech had a perfect game through five innings, but his side needed a late rally to pull out a 5-0 win in the second game of their double-header against the New York Yankees.

Despite Kopech's heroics – finishing his career-long start with seven full innings pitched for six strikeouts, one hit and two walks – the scores were tied at 0-0 heading into the eighth frame.

Yankees set-up pitcher Jonathan Losaiga had no luck getting through the inning unscathed, giving up four hits and two earned runs before getting pulled with runners still on first and second. Miguel Castro could not get the Yankees out of trouble, giving up a three-run homer to Tim Anderson as the very next batter.

Clayton Kershaw and Mookie Betts starred for the Los Angeles Dodgers swept a double-header on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs.

Kershaw dominated the opener, giving up only five hits and striking out two over 81 pitches in seven innings, as the Dodgers won 7-0.

Betts shone in the night game, smashing a three-run double in the second inning and a two-run homer in the ninth to secure a 6-2 win.

Tyler Anderson struck out seven and gave up four hits over 80 pitches in five innings as the Dodgers claimed a fifth straight win.

They moved to 18-7 for the season and lead a strong National League West division, with every team holding a record at .500 or over.

Flores leads Giants to win over Cards

Wilmer Flores hit a grand slam in the first inning and finished with a career-high six RBIs as the San Francisco Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals 13-7.

Logan Webb struck out seven but gave up eight hits and four runs over 84 pitches in five innings, while Mauricio Dubon and Darin Ruf also hit home runs for the Giants.

Yadier Molina reached 1000 career RBIs and Dylan Carlson added a three-run homer, but it was not enough as the Cards had their three-game winning streak ended.

Polanco propels Twins to victory

Jorge Polanco led the Minnesota Twins as they sent the Oakland Athletics to their eighth consecutive defeat, claiming a 1-0 win.

Polanco had three of the Twins' five hits on the night from four at-bats, including a monster home run in the sixth inning, his third for the year.

Minnesota pitchers combined to strike out 15 while allowing three hits, as they maintained their lead atop the American League Central.

Albert Pujols looks to be preparing for his final MLB season after returning to the St. Louis Cardinals, who hope he can help take them back to the World Series.

Future Hall of Famer Pujols has signed a one-year, $2.5million contract back in St. Louis, where he started his career in 2001.

In 11 seasons with the Cardinals, the 42-year-old won three National League MVPs, made nine All-Star Game appearances and claimed two World Series titles.

Now, after nine and a half seasons with the Los Angeles Angels before ending last year on the Los Angeles Dodgers, he is ready for one final push.

"This is it for me," Pujols said. "This is my last run."

Pujols appears set to play in a part-time role, as a designated hitter against left-handed pitchers and as a late-game pinch-hitter.

He added: "I think I am here for a reason. They believe I can still play this game."

Pujols may no longer be the difference-maker he was in those two title runs, but the Cardinals have not added to their 11 World Series wins since then, losing to the Boston Red Sox in 2013.

Yadier Molina, the 39-year-old catcher who was a team-mate for both championships and has spent his entire career in St. Louis, is delighted to be reunited with Pujols.

"I'm happy for him to be here," he said. "It's going to be a fun year. We've only got one thing in mind – winning another championship."

The San Francisco Giants reclaimed the National League (NL) West lead with a dramatic 3-2 walk-off victory over rivals and World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Sole possession of top spot was on the line as the Giants and Dodgers clashed in a heavyweight MLB showdown in San Francisco on Friday.

The score was deadlocked at 2-2 until a bizarre walk-off throwing error lifted the Giants past the Dodgers in the 11th inning.

With the bases loaded in the 11th and two outs, Buster Posey appeared to have hit an inning-ending groundout, but Trea Turner's throw went wide of Will Smith, whose toe came off the bag.

Posey was initially ruled safe, and it stayed that way despite a lengthy Dodgers (85-50) review – the Giants (86-49) moving back to the top of the NL West again.

 

Comeback of the year?

The Toronto Blue Jays emerged from the jaws of defeat in stunning fashion, somehow conquering the Oakland Athletics 11-10. Toronto – chasing the last Wild Card spot – trailed 8-2 entering the eighth inning at home to fellow playoff hopefuls the A's. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit a game-tying grand slam after a two-out rally. Mark Canha's two-run homer restored Oakland's advantage in the top of the ninth, but Marcus Semien delivered an incredible walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the inning. Gurriel became just the third Blue Jays player ever to hit three grand s lams in a season after Edwin Encarnacion (2015) and Darrin Fletcher (2000).

The Detroit Tigers lit up the Cincinnati Reds 15-5 behind Dustin Garneau's two-run homer and solo shot, plus Robbie Grossman's three-run blast.

Kyle Schwarber hit a lead-off homer in the opening inning to fuel the Boston Red Sox's 8-5 victory at home to the Cleveland Indians. Hunter Renfroe added a three-run homer for the Red Sox, who have won three straight games.

 

Keuchel's woes continue

Dallas Keuchel struggled again as the Chicago White Sox went down 7-2 to the Kansas City Royals. Keuchel allowed six runs in three innings – the 2015 American League (AL) Cy Young winner has a 7.26 ERA through his past 11 starts. He gave up five earned runs, seven hits and two walks with just one strikeout against the Royals.

 

Arenado homers twice as Wainwright and Molina celebrate milestone

St Louis Cardinals star Nolan Arenado recorded his 21st multi-homer game since entering the majors in 2013 – tied for the second most alongside Bryce Harper in the NL in that span, behind Giancarlo Stanton (22). The Cardinals crushed the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers 15-4. Cardinals team-mates Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina started together for the 300th time – the fourth most prolific battery in history.

 

Friday's results 

Chicago Cubs 6-5 Pittsburgh Pirates
New York Yankees 4-3 Baltimore Orioles
New York Mets 6-2 Washington Nationals
Toronto Blue Jays 11-10 Oakland Athletics
Boston Red Sox 8-5 Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers 15-5 Cincinnati Reds
Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 Minnesota Twins
Miami Marlins 10-3 Philadelphia Phillies
Kansas City Royals 7-2 Chicago White Sox
St Louis Cardinals 15-4 Milwaukee Brewers
Colorado Rockies 4-3 Atlanta Braves
Los Angeles Angels 3-2 Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners 6-5 Arizona Diamondbacks
Houston Astros 6-3 San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants 3-2 Los Angeles Dodgers

 

A's at Blue Jays

With both teams vying for a Wild Card berth, the Blue Jays (71-62) and Athletics (74-61) will continue their series on Saturday. Jose Berrios will start for the Blue Jays as the A's counter with Paul Blackburn.

Fresh off agreeing to a one-year extension to remain with the St. Louis Cardinals, longtime catcher Yadier Molina announced he plans to retire following the 2022 season.

Molina verified speculation that the 2022 campaign would be his last at a press conference prior to St. Louis' home game against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday. The Cardinals announced on  Tuesday that the 10-time All-Star would be returning next season on a one-year deal.

The 39-year-old has spent his entire 18-year career with St. Louis, though a return in 2021 was not finalised until he and the Cardinals were able to agree to a one-year, $9million contract just prior to the start of spring training. Molina said he wanted to avoid a similar situation this winter and informed his agent to begin negotiations as soon as possible.

"That's why my agent and myself came to [president of baseball operations John Mozeliak] and told them I want to stay here," Molina said. "I want to get it done this early and not put this on the organisation in free agency again, because it's going to be my last year and I want to finish here with this great organisation."

A key member of the Cardinals' last two World Series championship teams in 2006 and 2011, Molina's 2,120 career games played are the third-most in franchise history behind only Hall of Famers Stan Musial and Lou Brock. He holds the major league record for most games as a catcher with one team at 2,081, and his nine Gold Gloves trail only Ivan Rodriguez (13) and Johnny Bench for the most by a catcher.

"It gives me great pleasure to announce that Yadier Molina will continue his franchise legacy for another season in 2022," Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr. said in Tuesday's press release. "Yadi has continued to play at an All-Star level this season and has already established himself among the greatest players to have ever worn the birds on the bat."

Molina has started 95 of the Cardinals' 124 games behind the plate this season and ranks third on the team with 51 RBIs to go along with a .259 average and eight home runs.

Yadier Molina has agreed to terms on a new deal to extend his St Louis Cardinals career into an 18th MLB season.

The 38-year-old catcher's new contract was announced by the Cardinals on Monday.

Molina made his MLB debut with the Cardinals in 2004 and has gone on to win two World Series with the team, while being named an All-Star nine times.

"We are excited to announce that we have agreed to terms with Yadier Molina on a new contract!" the Cardinals wrote on Twitter.

"We will have more details tomorrow on Yadi continuing his Cardinals legacy."

Reports said Molina, who was a free agent, had agreed to a one-year extension with the Cardinals.

Molina's 2,025 games for the Cardinals ranks as the third most for the team, behind Stan Musial (3,026) and Lou Brock (2,289).

He is sixth for hits (2,001), seventh for RBIs (932), 10th for home runs (160) and 22nd for runs scored (713).

The Cardinals made the MLB playoffs in 2020 before falling to the San Diego Padres in the National League (NL) Wild Card Series.

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