MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 10: Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals rounds the bases on his 2-run home run in the top of the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers during Game Two of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park on October 10, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Albert Pujols powered the Cardinals to an early lead, a big lead, then an even bigger lead, as St. Louis clobbered the Milwaukee Brewers, 12-3.
Oh, there are other stories in the game. The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 12-3, to even the NLCS to 1-1 before the series travels to Missouri, and it took a team effort. Edwin Jackson kept them in the game, Jon Jay had three hits and scored three runs, and Rafael Furcal was the only player in the starting lineup who didn't have either a run or an RBI.
But Albert Pujols.
Shaun Marcum is a story, too. The Brewers acquired him with the playoffs in mind, imagining a Gallardo/Greinke/Marcum rotation would do swell in a short series. It worked during the regular season, but Marcum has been awful in his first two playoff starts, and he was awful in his last regular-season start as well. That's a big deal for a team looking for its first World Series win.
Yeah, not the story. Albert Pujols. If I had the clearance and the technological savvy, I would have stopped all this writing nonsense and just changed the front page:
Pujols was 4-for-5 on the night, with a home run, three doubles, three runs scored and five RBI. He struck in the first inning off Marcum, hitting a no-doubt, two-run homer to left field. In the third inning, he got to Marcum again, this time sending a 2-2 pitch over Nyjer Morgan's head for a two-run double. In the fifth, he doubled off Marcum's replacement, Marco Estrada, to drive in a run. He failed to drive in a run with his double in the seventh, but he did manage to score on a Matt Holliday single, the first of five straight Cardinal singles that brought the score to 11-2, and sent millions of people looking for their remotes.
When the Cardinals were leading 5-0 in the fourth, the Brewers clawed back a bit on a two-run homer from Rickie Weeks. The Cardinals got two runs right back in the top of the fifth, though, and when the Brewers loaded the bases with one out in the bottom half of the inning, Weeks grounded into a double play. Replays showed that Weeks was safe, and a run should have scored with the bases still loaded, but that didn't help the Brewers, who never mounted another serious threat.
Jackson pitched 4⅓ innings, allowing seven hits, striking out three, and walking one. A procession of relievers followed, with the only blemish being a kilometer-long home run that Prince Fielder hit to right field off Mitchell Boggs. In theory, it could have been the last swing Fielder ever took as a Brewer in Milwaukee, but the night was bad enough for everyone in Wisconsin. Don't make those poor fans feel worse. I mean, if you have Bud Selig's cell-phone number, you could text it to him to be a jerk, but even that seems a little much.
With the win, the home-field advantage swings to the Cardinals, who will play at least three home games to a possible two more for Milwaukee. Albert Pujols had been relatively quiet in his recent playoff games before the NLCS. It's as if something woke him up.