After his record-breaking 2022 season, there was no one more fitting to hit the first home run of the 2023 campaign than Aaron Judge as the New York Yankees won 5-0 over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday.

Judge, who blasted an American League single-season record 62 home runs last season, lit up Opening Day with the first home-run shot of 2023 in the first inning at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees outfielder needed only two pitches before launching Logan Webb's sinker over the center-field wall. Judge's blast had an exit velocity of 109.3 mph and traveled 422 feet according to Statcast projections.

Gerrit Cole did the rest on the mound, recording an Opening Day franchise record 11 strikeouts across six scoreless innings.

Gleyber Torres creamed a two-run blast in the fourth inning to open up a 3-0 lead, while Torres scored again from a D.J. LeMahieu single in the seventh.

Judge chimed in with a broken-bat RBI single in the same inning, with Jose Trevino scoring, securing a 5-0 win and initiating "M-V-P!" chants from the home crowd.

Top prospect Anthony Volpe also got a rousing reception from the Yankees faithful, finishing 0-2 with a walk in his maiden start at shortstop.

Jays edge Cards in 19-run, 34-hit epic

The Toronto Blue Jays edged the St Louis Cardinals 10-9 in a wild 19-run 34-hit Opening Day classic where Vladimir Guerrero Jr played a key role.

Guerrero brought home the decisive run with a ninth-inning sacrifice fly for new addition Kevin Kiermaier to score the go-ahead run. Guerrero finished with three RBIs from two hits.

Alejandro Kirk had helped the Jays to a 3-0 first-inning lead with a two-run single on a line drive, after Daulton Varsho drove in George Springer on a double.

The chaotic contest saw the Jays become the first MLB team to allow a go-ahead run in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings on the road and still win since the Boston Red Sox in 1938.

Ohtani sends down 10 Ks in Angels defeat

Shohei Ohtani took the unusual step of calling his own pitches, sending down 10 strikeouts, but it was not enough for the Los Angeles Angels in a 2-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics.

Ohtani threw six shutout innings, allowing only two hits, but the A's capitalized after he exited, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 victory, scoring two at the bottom of the eighth.

Tony Kemp doubled on a fly ball past Mike Trout in center field with Esteury Ruiz scoring, before Aledmys Diaz's line drive drove in Kemp.

Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe produced a moment of magic in the fifth inning with a no-look catch, leaving Ohtani stunned.

Aaron Judge has capped his historic season after being crowned the AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) ahead of Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani on Thursday.

St Louis Cardinals slugger Paul Goldschmidt was also voted the NL MVP, beating out Manny Machado of the San Diego Padres and teammate Nolan Arenado for the award.

Judge's MVP, the first in his career, came after he broke the single-season Yankees and AL home-run record, reaching 62 to surpass Roger Maris Sr's 61 – set 61 years ago in 1961. He became the fourth major league player to hit 62 or more homers in a single season.

The Yankees outfielder led the AL in home runs (62), RBIs (131), slugging percentage (.686), on-base percentage (.425), OPS (1.111) and total bases (391), while he chased an AL Triple Crown down the stretch, but ultimately fell short as Minnesota Twins' utility Luis Arraez (.316) won the batting title.

Judge received 28 first-place votes for 410 points, ahead of Ohtani (280) and Houston Astros' Yordan Alvarez (232).

The 30-year-old already had two top-five MVP finishes on his resume, in 2017 and 2021, winning Silver Slugger awards in both years.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said: "I’m grateful that I got to witness it first-hand and share in his magical year, especially given how much respect I have for him as a player and as a person."

Goldschmidt looked like the NL MVP since the All-Star break, batting .317 while leading the NL in OPS (.982) and slugging percentage (.578).

The Cardinals first baseman's 35 home runs finished one off his career-high, set in 2013 and equalled in 2017, giving him his seventh season with at least 30 dingers.

Goldschmidt won the MVP with 380 voting points, ahead of Machado (291) and Arenado (232). It is the sixth time in 35-year-old Goldschmidt's career that he has finished in the top-six for the award.

"I think definitely as you age, you have to adapt, and that's some of what I've tried to do. I've tried to get ahead of it," Goldschmidt told MLB Network. "I think it was my best season."

New York Yankees superstar Aaron Judge collected the first of many individual awards set to come his way when he was named winner of the American League's Hank Aaron Award.

Paul Goldschmidt of the St Louis Cardinals was named the National League winner of the award, which honours the player in each league who had the best offensive season.

Judge, 30, enjoyed the best year of his career as he broke the single-season Yankees and American League home run record, reaching 62 to surpass Roger Maris' 61 – set 61 years ago in 1961.

Making his fourth All-Star game, Judge also set career-highs in batting average (.311), slugging percentage (.686) and on-base percentage (.425) – leading the majors in the latter two metrics.

With two top-five MVP finishes on his resume already – in 2017 and 2021, winning Silver Slugger awards in both years – Judge is considered a lock to top the votes and claim his first this time around.

Meanwhile, Goldschmidt has looked like the NL MVP since the All-Star break, and was rewarded with his second Hank Aaron Award after also winning it back in 2013 with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Goldschmidt, 35, is set for his sixth top-six finish in MVP voting, batting .317 while leading the NL in on-base-plus-slugging (OPS) at .981.

His 35 home runs finished one off his career-high, set in 2013 and equalled in 2017, giving him his seventh season with at least 30 dingers.

Goldschmidt has two years remaining on his contract with the Cardinals, while Judge is set to enter free agency for the first time in his career.

Adam Wainwright is returning to the St Louis Cardinals for one last hurrah in 2023 but says he wants no fuss to surround his farewell season.

The 41-year-old pitcher, who made his debut for the team in 2005, will be entering a 19th season with the Cardinals and looking to make up for a disappointing end to the 2022 campaign.

He struggled in the team's closing regular season games and cited a "dead arm", saying he was feeling "no explosiveness" when pitching.

Wainwright wants to go out on a high, so he is playing on with that in mind, but wary of being caught up in hoopla.

"I have so many distractions as it is, and I don't need any more," said Wainwright. "If I tell you it's the last one, then I've got to go through a bunch of stuff.

"My main focus of playing next year is to go out and win and help this team win.

"Long story short: Yes, this will be the last one. Everybody relax and let me pitch. Let me go out and perform and not freak out about it every single day, and let's see what happens."

Wainwright has 195 career wins and 117 losses. An early target will be to pass 200 wins, and then Wainwright will be looking to go second on the team's all-time list among pitchers, with Jesse Haines currently occupying that position with 210 wins. Bob Gibson heads the list with 251 wins.

To go past Haines would require an upturn in Wainwright's former, after he endured an 11-12 win-loss record in 2022.

Cardinals president John Mozeliak was glad to agree a deal to keep Wainwright on for one more year.

Mozeliak, quoted on MLB.com, said: "We really do feel like there's something left in that tank.

"We all know how competitive [Wainwright] is, we know how special he is in that clubhouse and what he means to this organisation. So we're just glad we could get it done."

J.T. Realmuto insisted that "nobody's excited" to play the Philadelphia Phillies after they secured their National League Division Series place with victory over the St Louis Cardinals.

The Phillies advanced to their first NLDS showdown in 11 years, where they will face the Atalanta Braves after defeating the Cardinals 2-0 in the National League Wildcard Series.

Bryce Harper's homer off the first pitch of the second inning set the tone at Busch Stadium, where Aaron Nola's pitching kept the likes of Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado at bay as they prevailed with a game to spare.

"I can promise you, nobody's excited to play the Phillies right now," Realmuto said. "Not one person on this team is surprised. We all expected to be here. This is where we wanted to be to start the season, and we're not done yet.

"We felt like it was our night to begin with and as soon as Bryce [Harper] hit that home run, we felt like we were going to win the game.

"There's a lot of confidence in that dugout right now and with the way Aaron has been throwing the ball, we were confident he and the bullpen were going to hold it down."

Rhys Hoskins also heaped praise on Harper following his "MVP-type" display, revealing he was a man on a mission upon arriving in the locker room. 

"The first thing Bryce told me today is we are not losing this game," Hoskins added. "Then he goes out and hits a home run in his first at-bat. That's MVP-type stuff right there. It was awesome."

Defeat for the Cardinals abruptly brought the curtain down on the glittering careers of Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, who boast 21 All Star appearances between them.

Manager Oliver Marmol was disappointed not to give the decorated duo a more fitting send-off, saying: "Everybody in that clubhouse is feeling it right now. It's a tough one.

"When you know it's Yadi's last year and Albert's last year, there's this extra motivation to deliver for them and do something special and allow that story to end with a championship, so it's obviously disappointing. But it's where we're at."

The San Diego Padres began their postseason in style, making history in their 7-1 win on the road against the New York Mets in Game 1 of their NL Wild Card series on Friday.

With Max Scherzer starting on the mound for the Mets, the Padres clobbered four home runs off him in the first four-and-two-thirds innings. It was the first time in the Mets' 89-game playoff history they had conceded four home runs in a single game.

They were hit by Josh Bell in the first inning, followed by Trent Grisham in the second inning, before Jurickson Profar and Manny Machado both went deep in the fifth to spell the end of Scherzer's night.

The Mets were able to hit one homer of their own in the bottom of the fifth inning, but that would be the last run of the game as both bullpens pitched four scoreless frames to close the show.

Yu Darvish pitched a gem for the Padres, giving up one run from six hits and no walks in seven complete innings, striking out four batters.

New York will host Game 2 on Saturday, and Game 3, if necessary, on Sunday.

Phillies produce stunning comeback to steal Game 1

The Philadelphia Phillies trailed 2-0 heading into the last inning, and came away with a 6-3 road win against the St Louis Cardinals.

There were no runs from either team in the first six innings as Zack Wheeler pitched six-and-a-third innings for two hits and one walk, while Jose Quintana also gave up only two hits and one walk in five-and-a-third.

A two-run Juan Yepez homer in the seventh gave the Cardinals a late lead, but the Phillies would catch fire in the ninth with three hits, two walks, a hit-by-pitch and a sacrifice-fly in a six-run onslaught.

The Phillies' Jean Segura was the only player with multiple hits, with his second coming in the last frame with bases loaded to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead, and they never looked back.

Castillo shuts out the Blue Jays

Competing in their first postseason appearance since 2001, the Seattle Mariners are one win away from advancing to the NLDS after a 4-0 shutout win away against the Toronto Blue Jays.

After being secured in a trade at the deadline, starting pitcher Luis Castillo justified the hefty package the Mariners parted way with by throwing seven-and-a-third innings of scoreless playoff baseball, giving up six hits and no walks.

With the bat, the man who hit the memorable home run to secure their playoff berth, Cal Raleigh, stayed hot with a two-run bomb in the first inning, while Eugenio Suarez collected the other two RBIs.

Ramirez, Bieber come up big for the Guardians

Every run from the Cleveland Guardians' 2-1 win against the Tampa Bay Rays came from two swings in the sixth inning, with Cleveland stars Jose Ramirez and Shane Bieber producing match-winning performances.

On the mound, Bieber pitched seven-and-two-thirds innings, allowing three hits and one walk while striking out eight batters, but a Jose Siri home run in the sixth inning had the Rays leading 1-0.

That lead was quickly erased later in the same inning, with an Amed Rosario single setting up Jose Ramirez for a two-run home run that would end up being the difference.

Cleveland will have a chance to move on to the NLDS with a win in tomorrow's Game 2 in front of their home fans.

Albert Pujols has revealed he almost cut short his final season in baseball before going on the hot hitting streak that took him past 700 home runs.

The St Louis Cardinals great was mired in dismal early-season form, collecting just four homers in the first three months, but he added 20 in the remainder of the campaign.

Pujols failed to go deep once in June, which is when he began to doubt himself, questioning whether he should stick with it to the end of the season.

The 42-year-old will sign off on his MLB career after the playoffs, with the Cardinals hosting the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, in the opening game of their best-of-three wildcard round tussle.

His haul of 24 home runs for the season is Pujols' best tally since 2016, when he hit 31, and it justifies the decision to play on after questioning whether he could justify continuing his career.

"There were some times when I [asked] myself that, many times," Pujols told MLB.com.

Pujols said that by early July, he had "figured something out". A homer in an 11-8 loss to the Phillies on July 7 stopped the rot.

He joined only three others in history in passing 700 career home runs: Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).

Pujols said: "When you have good people around you and they are encouraging you and you realise that God has opened so many doors for you, man, it puts things back into perspective.

"I decided, 'I'm going to stick with it!'.

"I knew sooner or later it was going to come and turn around for me, because it can't be like it was all year long."

The Cardinals finished the regular season with a 93-69 record, and Pujols is hoping they have saved the best for last.

He said: "It's my last year and I want to go out with my best. And my best is winning a championship."

Luis Severino was pulled from the New York Yankees' 3-1 win against the Texas Rangers seven innings through a no-hitter.

Severino finished with 94 pitches, giving up no hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. The strong performance means he will finish this season with an ERA of 3.18, which is his best return since 2017 after only pitching in seven games across the past two seasons.

The Rangers broke up the no-hitter two outs after Severino was removed, but their one run was not enough after both Marwin Gonzalez and Giancarlo Stanton hit solo home-runs for the Yankees in the eighth inning.

Stanton's was particularly impressive, connecting on a monstrous 457-foot bomb to left-center for his 30th homer of the season. He is tied for 20th in the majors for home runs, and no other member of the top-20 has played in fewer than Stanton's 109 games.

Still one home run away from the American League and Yankees' single-season record, Aaron Judge remained on 61 as he finished one-for-four at the plate with an infield single. He has three more games to hit one homer if he is to break Roger Maris' 61-year-old record set back in 1961.

Pujols hits 703rd career home run

It appeared incredibly unlikely Albert Pujols would reach the magical 700 home run mark at the midpoint of this season, but he has comfortably sailed past that figure and knocked number 703 in the St Louis Cardinals' 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols' two-run homer in the sixth inning was responsible for all of the Cardinals' runs in the game, giving him his 24th of the season – his highest tally since 2016. With his two RBIs, he passed Babe Ruth for the second most in the history of the league, trailing only Hank Aaron.

After a combined four home runs in the first three months of the season, Pujols has caught fire and hit 19 in the last four months.

Luzardo pitches a gem for the Marlins

Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jesus Luzardo struck out 12 batters in six scoreless innings to help his side to a 4-0 win against the Atlanta Braves.

Luzardo gave up four hits and no walks, getting through the sixth inning in 101 pitches. He was then backed up with terrific work from the bullpen, not allowing a single baserunner in the final three innings.

With the bat, Bryan De La Cruz drove in three of the Marlins' four runs, with an RBI double in the first inning and a two-run home run in the third.

Albert Pujols said reaching 700 home runs will be something he looks back on with pride at the end of his career after becoming the fourth man to reach the landmark against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday.

The St. Louis Cardinals great announced in March the 2022 season would be his last in baseball, but he appears set to go out with a bang after enjoying an incredible second half of the season.

Pujols entered Friday's game against the Dodgers, his former team, with 698 career homers to his name and brought up number 699 with a crashing 434-foot blast in the third inning. 

The 42-year-old soon had his milestone, picking out a similar spot in left-field to put the Cardinals 5-0 up.

Speaking after a big 11-0 win, Pujols said: "It's pretty special. When it's really going to hit me is when I'm done, at the end of the season, when I'm retired, and probably a moment or two after that I can look at the numbers.

"Look, don't get me wrong, I know what my place is in this game. But since day one, when I made my debut, it was never about numbers, it was never about chasing numbers.

"It was always about winning championships and trying to get better in this game. And I had so many people that taught me the right way early in my career, and that's how I've carried myself for 22 years that I've been in the big leagues. 

"That's why I really don't focus on the numbers. I will, one day, but not right now."

Only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) have now hit more MLB homers than Pujols, who felt no desire to try to reclaim the historic ball from the lucky fan who caught it. 

"Souvenirs are for the fans," Pujols said. "If they want to keep it, they can. At the end of the day, I don't focus on material stuff. I think I have the bat, the uniform, helmet, things that are special to me. 

"At the end of the day, I think that's why the fans come here – to have a special moment of history. So, if they want to keep that baseball I don't have any problem with that."

St Louis Cardinals legend Albert Pujols had a night he will never forget during Friday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, becoming the fourth player to ever hit 700 home runs in their career.

Pujols, 42, came into the contest with 698 homers to his name after an incredible second half of the season, with eight home runs in August and now six more in September after totalling seven combined from the first four months.

He hit number 699 in the third inning from his second at-bat of the contest, crushing a two-run shot 434 feet over the left-field wall – longer than any home run he hit at this year's Home Run Derby.

There was no lengthy wait for 700, as it came in the very next inning. After Dodgers starting pitcher Andrew Heaney was pulled from the game, relief pitcher Phil Bickford got the dubious honour of pitching the memorable homer.

On a 1-1 count, after taking two sliders, the third pitch was another slider that Pujols did not miss, this time with a 389-foot shot to a similar spot in left-field to make the score 5-0. 

But the score was not relevant for his rival fans in Dodger Stadium, who rose in unison with baseball fans everywhere to celebrate the historic moment.

It was a fitting moment for Pujols, who played for the Dodgers last season when it appeared his best days were well and truly behind him, before deciding to go around one more time with the Cardinals, who he spent his first 11 seasons with.

In his past three injury-riddled seasons, Pujols hit 23 total home runs in 148 games. He now has 21 this season from 101 games.

Pujols' 700th home run now leaves him trailing only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) for the most all-time, putting an emphatic exclamation point on one of the best careers in the history of baseball.

Three home runs in the first inning ended up being not enough for the Houston Astros as they went down 8-5 at home against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday.

After Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez hit three home runs on Friday, he followed it up with another one less than 24 hours later, giving him six from his past six games.

But Alvarez was not one of the Astros to go deep in the first inning, with Aledmys Diaz, Kyle Tucker and Trey Mancini all taking turns hitting balls over the fence to jump out to a 4-1 lead before registering their third out.

From that point on, Athletics starting pitcher Cole Irvin tightened the screws, holding the Astros scoreless through the next six innings to allow his side a chance to fight back.

Oakland showed some power of their own in the middle frames, with Chad Pinder hitting a 348-foot wall-scraper to right field, before Seth Brown was much more convincing with his three-run, 432-foot launch in the fifth inning.

A double in the seventh inning gave Brown his fourth RBI, making it 7-5, with Alvarez's eighth-inning shot proving to be just a consolation.

It was Alvarez's 37th home run of the season, leaving him alone in third place league-wide, although he is still 20 home runs off leader Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees.

Woodruff dominates the Yankees

Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Brandon Woodruff put on a show at home against the New York Yankees, striking out 10 batters in eight innings on the way to a 4-1 win.

Woodruff allowed just one run – a solo home run to Josh Donaldson in the fourth inning – as only six Yankees reached base in the contest, with five hits and one walk.

With the bat, the majority of the damage was done by rising star Willy Adames, who became the second shortstop in the majors to hit 30 home runs this season with his three-run shot in the third inning. The other shortstop to hit 30 homers is Corey Seager, who was recently rewarded with a massive 10-year, $325million contract extension by the Texas Rangers.

Acuna carries the Braves

Ronald Acuna Jr drove in all four of the Atlanta Braves' runs in their 4-3 home win against the Philadelphia Phillies.

After two scoreless innings to begin the contest, Acuna broke the deadlock with a two-run, 427-foot bomb over the right-field wall, and then drove in another two runs with his next at-bat in the fourth inning when he doubled with two runners on base.

Both sides received solid starting pitching performances, with Philly opting to ride their ace Aaron Nola deep into the game, letting him pitch seven full innings, while the Braves pulled Jake Odorizzi after allowing just one run in four-and-two-thirds innings, although he threw only seven fewer pitches than Nola's 99.

Albert Pujols was the star of the show on Friday night as he moved one step closer to becoming the fourth player to ever hit 700 home runs, connecting on number 698 in the St Louis Cardinals' 6-5 win against the Cincinnati Reds.

An RBI ground ball from Jonathan India, a two-run double from Jake Fraley and an RBI single from Aristides Aquino gave the Reds a 4-1 lead heading into the sixth inning, where sparks would fly.

The stars delivered for the Cardinals to rally back from the deficit, with NL MVP favourite Paul Goldschmidt leading off the inning with a double, before fellow NL MVP candidate Nolan Arenado drove him home with a single, bringing Pujols to the plate.

On the very first pitch, Pujols crushed a no-doubt home run sailing well over the left-field wall to tie things up, with his 427-foot shot travelling further than any ball he hit at this year's Home Run Derby, and leaving him with two required to reach 700. Only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) have hit more.

Kyle Farmer put the Reds back ahead with his own solo home run in the seventh inning, but later in that inning Goldschmidt and Arenado would combine again, with back-to-back doubles scoring a pair of runs to take a 6-5 lead.

Cardinals closer Ryan Helsley came in to finish the job, and he did it in style, striking out all three batters from only nine pitches for a rare immaculate inning. It was only the third immaculate inning in Cardinals history.

Alvarez hits 1329 feet worth of home runs

Yordan Alvarez was in rare form for the Houston Astros in their 5-0 shut-out win against the Oakland Athletics, hitting home runs in each of his first three at-bats to deliver a win in Justin Verlander's return from injury.

The AL Cy Young Award favourite made his way back from the 15-day injured list to throw five hitless innings, striking out nine batters and only allowing one walk.

Helping him out with the bat, Alvarez hit a 434-foot home run in the first inning, followed by a 431-foot shot in the third inning, and from the first pitch of his third at-bat he did it again, blasting the longest ball of the night with a 464-foot nuke to center-field.

With his three homers, Alvarez is now tied for the third most in the majors with 36, although he remains 21 behind league-leader Aaron Judge (57).

Yankees blow a five-run lead

The New York Yankees led 5-0 in the second inning against the Milwaukee Brewers before going down 7-6 on a walk-off hit from Garrett Mitchell.

After the Yankees jumped out to their big early lead, Willy Adames pegged back four of the runs by himself, with a three-run homer in the second inning and an RBI double in the fourth.

A fielding error in the eighth inning allowed the Brewers to take a 6-5 lead, before Josh Donaldson collected his third RBI of the game with a solo home run to tie things in the last frame.

But Yankees closer Clay Holmes could not force extra innings, giving up two hits and two walks, capped off by Mitchell's game-winning single.

St Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina made their 325th career start together on Wednesday to establish a record for the most by a battery in MLB history. 

Fans at Busch Stadium waved towels with the number 325 as Wainwright opened the game with a first-pitch strike to the Milwaukee Brewers’ Christian Yelich. 

The previous record was held by Detroit Tigers pitcher Mickey Lolich and catcher Bill Freehan between 1963-75. 

Wainwright and Molina made their first start together on April 6, 2007, with Wainwright throwing seven innings of one-run ball in a 4-2 victory over the Houston Astros. 

''A lot has taken place in that time span and that's why I think this record is pretty darn cool,'' St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said before the game. ''I don't see anyone coming close to ever reaching it again.'' 

The closest active pitcher-catcher pair is not even a third of the way to Wainwright and Molina’s mark as the Chicago Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks and Willson Contreras have made 105 starts together. 

Wainwright and Molina are unlikely to add too many more starts to their record as the 40-year-old Molina is planning to retire at the end of the season. 

The 41-year-old Wainwright has yet to decide on if he’ll pitch in 2023. 

Two-time All-Star Justin Turner hit a pair of home runs to help his Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the San Diego Padres 11-2 on Sunday, giving them three consecutive series wins against their California rivals.

It was a bright start for the Padres, who led 2-0 through four innings of action as Joe Musgrove was pitching well and Jake Cronenworth hit a home run – before it all unravelled.

Turner got the first run on the board for the Dodgers with a solo home run in the fifth inning, before Chris Taylor followed suit two batters later to tie the game at 2-2.

A two-RBI, bases loaded single in the next frame from Max Muncy was the end of Musgrove, who finished with four earned runs from six hits and a walk.

But it was just the beginning for the Dodgers, who added six more runs in the seventh inning, capped off with a grand slam from Turner for his second homer of the game and 13th of the season.

Dodgers starter Andrew Heaney gave another good showing as he finished with two earned runs in five innings, striking out six.

After going four-for-five at the plate on Saturday and two-for-three on Sunday, Freddie Freeman now leads the majors in batting average at .331, and he has hit four more doubles (45) than any other player.

The Dodgers are 7-2 in their nine games against the Padres since the All-Star break, opening up a 20-game lead in the NL West.

Ohtani homers again in Angels loss

Shohei Ohtani is now tied for the fifth-most home runs in the league, with his 34th of the campaign coming in a 12-4 loss against the Houston Astros.

Ohtani – who is also seventh in the league for strikeouts as a pitcher (188 in 24 starts) – connected on his big two-run blast as the second batter of the game, but after teammate Andrew Velazquez put the Angels up 3-0 in the second inning, it would be all downhill from there.

The Astros rattled off the next 12 runs in a row, with home runs to Mauricio Dubon, Alex Bregman, Trey Mancini, Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker, extending their lead atop the American League to five-and-a-half games.

Pujols moves into fourth place on all-time home run list

Albert Pujols inched closer to the magical 700 home run mark on Sunday as he launched number 697 to help his St Louis Cardinals come from behind in the last inning to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3.

Trailing 2-0 in the last inning, a Corey Dickerson RBI double cut the margin to one, before Pujols drilled a high fastball 403 feet over the center-field wall.

Retiring at the end of the season, the 42-year-old seemed incredibly unlikely to reach 700 at the All-Star break, but he has since posted one of the best second halves to a season of his career, hitting 11 home runs in 99 at-bats while slashing .343/.400/.737.

Albert Pujols blasted his 696th career home run to move into equal fourth on the all-time homers list as the St Louis Cardinals defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-5 on Saturday.

Pujols levelled the game at the top of the sixth inning with his two-run blast, which moved him closer to the 700-homer mark, but also tied him up with Alex Rodriguez in fourth all-time behind only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).

The 42-year-old is in his final season in the majors, but was less concerned about records and more focused on the win.

"I don't care who I tied," Pujols said. "At the end of the day, it's about tying [the game] for the team and giving them an opportunity to pick up a win... It's pretty special. I think I'm aware of where I am in the history of the game. But at the end of the day, 21 years ago when I make the ballclub, that wasn't something that I was chasing."

Pujols also had a double and a single to round out a strong game, with Nolan Arenado breaking the tie with a three-run double with two outs in the ninth inning.

The National League (NL) Central-leading Cardinals improve their record to 82-58, to remain eight games clear of the Milwaukee Brewers who won 5-1 over the Cincinnati Reds.

Trout makes Angels franchise history

Mike Trout set a franchise record after homering in a sixth consecutive game as the Los Angeles Angels won 6-1 over the Houston Astros.

Trout passed Bonds' mark with a three-run homer at the top of the second inning, bringing up his 34th blast of the season.

Shohei Ohtani was hot on the mound for the Angels, with seven strikeouts, yielding one run on six hits across five innings before exiting early due to a "blister on his right index finger".

Ohtani's 101.4 mph fastball to strike out Kyle Tucker was the fastest strikeout pitch by an Angels pitcher since 2008.

Harper breaks home run drought

Bryce Harper snapped a career-worst run of 102 plate appearances without a home run in the Philadelphia Phillies 8-5 victory over the Washington Nationals.

Harper, who had not homered since June 5, slugged an opposite-field game-tying two-run home run in the third inning.

Kyle Schwarber blasted his 37th homer of the year, topping the NL charts, and bringing up his first since August 29.

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