CNN

Albert Pujols hit his 697th homer, putting him ahead of Alex ‘A-Rod’ Rodriguez on the all-time list, to propel the St. Louis Cardinals past the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3.

The Dominican slugger’s two-run drive to the top of ninth propelled him to fourth on the list, and he’s now only behind legends Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762) in the all-time Major League. Home runs in baseball.

Pujols will now aim to join the illustrious 700 home run club, but has just 21 games left to reach the milestone after announcing it would be the final season of his storied career.

The two-time World Series champion is adamant that if he doesn’t hit the 700 mark, it won’t affect his decision to end his 22-year career at the end of the season.

In July, he told USA Today, “I’m still going to retire regardless if I end up getting to 693, 696, 700, whatever, I’m not getting sucked into the numbers. If you were to tell me 22 years ago that I would be this close, I would have told you that you are crazy. My career has been amazing.

Just a few months ago, hitting the 700 mark seemed unlikely; Pujols had a slow start to the regular season after joining the team he started his Major League Baseball career with.

The first baseman only hit two home runs in April and May and failed to record a single home run in June. But he has since picked up the pace, hitting 12 home runs since the All-Star break in July.

Pujols’ resurgence saw the three-time National League MVP enjoy one of his best seasons in recent years. The 42-year-old is hitting .266/.338/.528 with 48 RBIs in 91 games and has .866 OPS, a form he hasn’t seen since his first stint in St. Louis.

Pujols is hoping to win his third World Series in his final season.

As always, Pujols is not one to get caught up in his own accomplishments. When the fans who caught his 9th inning bomb tried to return the ball, he refused and instead offered the pair two more signed balls.

“It’s just a baseball. They deserve to have it. He came out of the ballpark,” Pujols told MLB.com. “We play this game for the fans. So, whether they want to return it or whether they want to keep it, I have no problem with that. I think it means more to this girl than it does to me to have her in my trophy case.

The victory leaves the Cardinals de Pujols leading the NL Central with an 83-58 record, a month before the end of the regular season. The Cardinals travel to Milwaukee to face the second-placed Brewers on Wednesday.

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