- Associated Press - Sunday, October 23, 2011

ARLINGTON, Texas — First, Alexi Ogando watched Albert Pujols circle the bases. Then, Michael Gonzalez. And finally, Darren Oliver.

Pujols joined Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson as the only players to hit three home runs in a World Series game, tying records with five hits and six RBIs to lead the Cardinals to a 16-7 rout of the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.

Just like last year, the Rangers trail 2-1 in the best-of-seven championship. Only last season, they gritted out a morale-boosting 4-2 win over San Francisco in Game 3 before losing two in a row.

“It was just one of those days,” Oliver said. “Every game is a must-win. We didn’t get it done today, need a win tomorrow. There’s no doubt.”

Two days after being criticized for his silence following a crucial ninth-inning error in Game 2, Pujols did the talking with his bat. The three-time NL MVP turned on a 96 mph pitch from Ogando in the sixth for a 423-foot, three-run homer that clanked off the facing above the restaurant windows in left field and made it 11-6. He added a two-run shot to left-center in the seventh and a solo drive to left-center in the ninth.

“I didn’t walk into the ballpark today thinking that I was going to have a night like this,” Pujols said. “Just pretty special, you know, but at the same time, you need to enjoy this for a minute and be ready to play tomorrow.”

Pujols set a Series record with 14 total bases. He was 0 for 6 in the first two games.

“When Pujols is at the plate, that’s the first time he did damage. We fought back pretty good, the next thing you know he’s up there batting with guys on base and brings them in,” Oliver said. “That’s what he does. That’s why he’s the hitter he is.”

Former President George W. Bush and Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan looked dismayed, watching from front-row seats. Ryan must have felt a temptation to head out to the mound and throw a few pitches in hopes of restoring order.

“He’s a great hitter. You can’t take that from him,” Gonzalez said. “But the thing is, when you miss location to good hitters, they’re going to take advantage of your mistakes.”

Pujols matched the three-homer feat accomplished by a pair of Yankees Hall of Famers: Ruth against the Cardinals in Game 4 in 1926 and Game 4 in 1928, and Jackson against the Dodgers in Game 6 in 1977.

“It’s pretty special. Those guys are great players, and to do it at that level and on this stage is amazing,” Pujols said.

He matched the hits record set by Milwaukee’s Paul Molitor in the 1982 opener against the Cardinals, and the six RBIs equaled the Yankees’ Bobby Richardson in Game 3 in 1960 and Hideki Matsui in Game 6 two years ago.

Losing pitcher Matt Harrison, Scott Feldman, Ogando, Gonzalez, Mark Lowe and Oliver combined to give up 15 hits, three more than the Cardinals had in the first two games. St. Louis set a franchise postseason scoring record, overcoming a short start by Kyle Lohse and getting a win for reliever Lance Lynn.

After getting past Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera in the AL championship series, Rangers manager Ron Washington is now dealing with Pujols.

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