ARLINGTON, Texas - Albert Pujols began the game hoping to shake his slump and maybe get a hit.
He did that, and a whole lot more: He produced the defining game of his monster career, and perhaps the greatest hitting performance in World Series history.
Pujols launched three long homers, drove in six runs and finished with five hits tying Series records with each accomplishment as the St. Louis Cardinals romped past the Texas Rangers 16-7 on Saturday night for a 2-1 edge.
"Just pretty special," he said.
The three-time NL MVP matched Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson for the most home runs in a game, connecting on fastballs from three different pitchers. Pujols added two singles and set a Series mark with 14 total bases.
"Hopefully, at the end of my career, I can look back and say, 'Wow, what a game it was in Game 3 in 2011," Pujols said.
And to think, his night began with a groundout that left him 0 for 7 against Texas
"I mean, with Babe and Reggie, that's pretty good company right there," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
The outburst by Pujols came a day after he was barbed by the media for not sticking around to talk about a Game 2 error and loss. This time, everyone was talking about him.
"When the opportunity presents itself to put him on the bag, I'm not going to let him swing the bat," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "But tonight, we just couldn't get the ball out of the middle of the plate and up, and he just didn't miss.
"I saw him on TV but I'll tell you, tonight was something special."
The Cardinals mashed their way to the highest-scoring game in their storied postseason history, breaking away after first base umpire Ron Kulpa's admitted blown call.
After two taut games in St. Louis, this suddenly turned into a messy slugfest. Pujols, the most feared slugger in the majors, was right in the middle he became the first player in Series history to get hits in four straight innings.
So much for any worries about Pujols making a dent.
"I was hitting the ball hard, but I wasn't getting any hits," he said. "But all it takes is one good game. I got five hits, what are they going to say about it?"
Texas fans booed after Kulpa's miss helped the Cardinals score four times in the fourth for a 5-0 lead. The crowd at Rangers Ballpark went silent when Pujols started swinging for the fences, and beyond. His three-run shot in the sixth rattled the windows of the club level high above left field.
Game 4 is Sunday night, with Derek Holland starting for the Rangers against Edwin Jackson. It will be the back half of a St. Louis-Texas style doubleheader earlier in the day, the Rams play the Dallas Cowboys right across the parking lot.