By JOE HARRIS
ST. Louis (AP) — Albert Pujols drew huge cheers in his long-awaited return to St Louis, but Marcell Ozuna spoiled the homecoming with a home run that helped the Cardinals beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-1 on Friday night.
Pujols spent the first 11 years of his All-Star career with the Cardinals, helped them win the 2011 World Series and then signed with Angels as a free agent. Due to inconsistent interleague scheduling, this was the first time the Angels have visited St. Louis since Pujols left.
Pujols went 1 for 2 with a walk in a rather eventful evening at Busch Stadium.
In the bottom of the first with Matt Carpenter batting, the ballpark’s alarm system was falsely activated, prompting a brief delay and sending a scattering of fans to the concourse. In the fourth, Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt hammered a foul fall that went completely out of the stadium.
Pujols received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 48,423 every time he stepped to the plate, including one in the first inning that lasted over a minute. He embraced Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina before batting, prompting the fans to get even louder.
In the fourth, Cardinals starter Michael Wacha drew a smattering of boos after walking Pujols on four straight pitches to lead off the inning. Pujols got more cheers heading to the dugout after being erased on a forceout.
Cardinals fans chanted “Let’s go, Albert” during Pujols’ at-bat in the seventh and he got a cheer as he beat out an infield single to lead off the frame. He got a final standing ovation after being lifted for pinch-runner Wilfredo Tovar two batters later.
Ozuna’s solo homer in the sixth broke a 1-1 tie. Ozuna also had RBI singles in the fourth and seventh.
Wacha (5-3) settled in after giving up an RBI double to Justin Upton in the first inning. He went six innings, struck out four, walked one and retired the final eight batters he faced.
Griffin Canning (2-4) sent down the first nine batters he faced before running into control issues in the fourth. He walked Carpenter and Goldschmidt and balked both into scoring position ahead of Ozuna’s single.
FACES IN THE CROWD
St. Louis natives Pat Maroon and Blaine Gabbert were at the game. Maroon helped lead the Blues to the Stanley Cup championship and Gabbert is a quarterback on the Tampa Bay roster.
The crowd was the eighth sellout of the season for the Cardinals and the second largest in Busch Stadium III history.
Angels: Recalled RHP Jake Jewell and RHP Luke Bard and optioned LHP Jose Suarez and RHP Taylor Cole to Triple-A Salt Lake.
Cardinals: Activated INF Yairo Muñoz from the paternity list and optioned 1B/OF Rangel Ravelo to Triple-A Memphis.
Angels: RHP Felix Peña (5-1, 4.70 ERA) will try to build on a career-high five straight winning decisions in the second game of the series in St. Louis on Saturday. He is 0-0 with a 4.92 ERA in three career appearances, all in relief, against the Cardinals.
Cardinals: RHP Dakota Hudson (5-3, 3.55 ERA) has seven straight quality starts and hasn’t given up a homer in 53 innings. He has never faced the Angels.