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Howard, Pujols Hit 3 Homers Each

September 4, 2006

Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols put themselves alongside Johnny Bench and Orlando Cepeda. Howard homered in his first three at-bats of Philadelphia’s doubleheader split against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, and Pujols matched the feat in the St. Louis Cardinals’ 6-3 win over Pittsburgh.

It marked the first time two players homered in their first three plate appearances on the same day since Bench and Cepeda _ a pair of Hall of Famers _ on July 26, 1970.

``I’m sure a day like today is going to be one of those days where I wake up and am like, `Did that really happen?‴ Howard said after the Phillies won the opener 8-7 and lost the nightcap 3-1 in 11 innings.

Howard, who connected three times off Tim Hudson, leads the major leagues with 52 homers and 133 RBIs. His 50th homer was a solo shot in the second inning, and he followed with a two-run drive in the third. His third homer was an opposite-field, solo shot to left in the sixth that made it 6-1.

Pujols connected with the bases empty in the first, and hit two-run drives in the third and fifth, all off Ian Snell (12-9). It was his third three-homer game, his second of the season, and with 42 homers he reached the 40-mark for the fourth straight season. He said he never tries to hit homers.

``Was I trying to hit the first one, the second one, the third one?″ Pujols said. ``No, I just try to have good at-bats. Like I say, it’s not about me, it’s about my team.″

In other games it was Houston 2, New York 1; Florida 10, Milwaukee 3; Washington 5, Arizona 3; San Francisco 7, Chicago 4; San Diego 2, Cincinnati 1; and Colorado 12, Los Angeles 5.

At Philadelphia, the Phillies dropped to 1 1/2 games back of San Diego, the NL wild-card leader, after splitting a doubleheader for the second day in a row. The Braves fell five back.

Geoff Geary (7-1), who won the opener, allowed Scott Thorman’s double leading off the 11th in the second game. Catcher Carlos Ruiz threw Pete Orr’s sacrifice bunt into left field, allowing pinch-runner Tony Pena to score, and Orr came in on Geary’s wild pitch. Chad Paronto (2-2) pitched a scoreless 10th, and Bob Wickman pitched the 11th for his 12th save.

Philadelphia led 6-3 in the ninth inning of the opener, but Fabio Castro allowed a go-ahead, three-run, opposite-field homer to right by Matt Diaz. Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino hit RBI singles off Wickman (0-1) in the bottom half.

Cardinals 6, Pirates 3

Pujols scored his 100th run on the third homer, giving him 100 or more in each of his six seasons. He’s the only player in major league history to hit 30 homers, score 100 runs and bat .300 in his first five seasons, and he is batting .321 this year.

Anthony Reyes (5-6) struck out a career-high nine at St. Louis and allowed four hits in 6 1-3 scoreless innings.

Astros 2, Mets 1

Roy Oswalt (11-8) retired his first 18 batters before New York’s Jose Reyes beat out a bouncer to shortstop leading off the seventh. Oswalt struck out nine and allowed three hits in 7 1-3 innings at Houston.

Adam Everett put Houston ahead with a run-scoring squeeze bunt in the sixth and Jason Lane hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Aubrey Huff’s single leading off the second was Houston’s only hit. The only other time the Mets lost when allowing a single hit was 2-1 against St. Louis on Sept. 14, 1991.

Carlos Delgado hit his 35th homer, a drive in the ninth off Brad Lidge, who then retired Shawn Green on a groundout for his 29th save. The Mets lost for just the third time in 16 games.

Marlins 10, Brewers 3

Rookie Scott Olsen (12-7) allowed one hit in seven scoreless innings as visiting Florida (68-68) completed a three-game sweep and became the first team since the 1899 Louisville Colonels to return to .500 after falling 20 games below, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Marlins were 11-31 on May 21.

Milwaukee has lost 10 straight, its longest skid since dropping 12 from Aug. 18-30, 2004. Tomo Ohka (4-4) gave up three runs and eight hits in seven innings.

Nationals 5, Diamondbacks 3

Austin Kearns hit a two-run double off Brandon Webb (14-6) in a four-run eighth.

Washington became the first team win four in a row when trailing by two runs in the seventh or later in all four since the New York Giants against the Phillies and Boston Braves and from June 25-28, 1923, according to Elias.

Arizona (64-72) fell eight games below .500 for the first time this season. Ryan Wagner (3-2) pitched 1 2-3 innings, and Jon Rauch pitched a perfect ninth for his first major league save.

Giants 7, Cubs 4

Barry Bonds homered for the second straight game, giving him 729 for his career, and visiting San Francisco remained 2 1/2 games back of wild card-leading San Diego. Bonds, 26 home runs shy of Hank Aaron’s record of 755, has five in his last 11 games.

Jason Schmidt (11-8) gave up three runs in seven innings, and Mike Stanton got four outs for his fifth save. Michael Wuertz (1-1) was the loser.

Padres 2, Reds 1

David Wells allowed one run and five hits in six innings in his first game since his hometown Padres acquired him from Boston on Thursday. The Reds completed a 2-8 trip, dropping 2 1/2 games back in the NL wild-card race.

Josh Bard hit a bases-loaded single that broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth after pinch-hitter Mike Piazza singled off Rheal Cormier (2-3).

Cla Meredith (3-1) pitched two scoreless innings, and Trevor Hoffman pitched the ninth for his 36th save.

Rockies 12, Dodgers 5

Matt Holliday homered to cap a six-run fifth, and Byung-Hyun Kim (8-10) allowed two runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings for his first win since Aug. 2.

Los Angeles, which had won seven straight, saw its NL West lead cut to three games over the Padres. Colorado stopped a nine-game road losing streak.

Aaron Sele (7-6) gave up six runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings.

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