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Pujols concludes STL return with 2 hits, Molina jersey swap

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Angels slugger Albert Pujols had two hits and exchanged jerseys with former teammate Yadier Molina to conclude an emotional return to St. Louis, and Los Angeles beat the Cardinals 6-4 on Sunday night.

Pujols was cheered throughout his first series in St. Louis since leaving the club in free agency after the 2011 season. The former Cardinal got standing ovations before each plate appearance throughout the weekend and a curtain call after popping out in his final at-bat. After the game, he and Molina met at home plate, hugged and swapped uniforms.

“This is probably one of the best moments of my career,” Pujols said. “I’m going to put it up there with the two World Series championships.”

Tommy La Stella and David Fletcher drove in two runs apiece, and Tyler Skaggs tossed five shutout innings for the Angels. Los Angeles snapped a three-game losing streak and finished a long road trip with a 6-5 mark.

The Cardinals rallied for four runs with two outs in the ninth, sparked by Jose Martinez’s solo homer. Angels closer Hansel Robles came on to get the final out in a non-save situation.

Pujols was 4 for 11 over the three-game set, including a home run during a 4-2 loss Saturday. He spent 11 years in St. Louis and won three MVP awards and two World Series (2006, 2011) with the Cardinals.

After Pujols popped out with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth, fans chanted his name as he returned to first base the next half-inning. It may have been the 39-year-old’s final chance to play in front of his old fan base.

“I wasn’t expecting this,” Pujols said. “These fans are unbelievable. “

La Stella had run-scoring hits in the second and sixth innings to back a strong effort from Skaggs and five other relievers.

Skaggs (7-6) allowed four hits over five scoreless innings. e struck out three and did not walk a batter.

St. Louis starter Miles Mikolas (5-8) gave up one run and seven hits over five innings. He struck out four and walked two.

REYES SUFFERS SETBACK

St. Louis RHP Alex Reyes was removed in the second inning of a start for Triple-A Memphis on Sunday with right pectoral discomfort. He will be re-evaluated Monday.

Reyes missed all of 2017 and most of 2018 after undergoing elbow surgery. He made four appearances on the major league level this season with an 0-1 record and 15.00 ERA.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: RHP Jordan Hicks will be out two to three days after leaving Saturday’s game with right triceps tendinitis. “I’m really confident from the doctors and the medical team that it’s nothing related to anything structural,” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said.

UP NEXT

Angels: LHP Andrew Heaney (0-1, 5.68) will face Cincinnati RHP Tyler Mahle (2-7, 4.17) on Tuesday in the first of a two-game series, which will kick off a six-game homestand. Heaney is making his sixth start of the season after missing the first 51 games with left elbow inflammation.

Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty (4-4, 4.24) will take on Oakland RHP Chris Bassitt (4-3, 3.64) in the first of a two-game set on Tuesday.

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