Chasing 700 and a championship: Pujols hits HR No. 698

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Continuing to hit home runs with great meaning -- both in terms of historical significance and to the Cardinals' chances of landing a top playoff seed --

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Albert Pujols hit the 698th home run of his career Friday against the Reds.

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With the Cardinals trailing by two runs in the sixth inning, Pujols hit a hanging slider from Raynel Espinal a Statcast-projected 427 feet to tie the game at 4. 

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The blast, which left his bat at 106.3 mph, pulled the slugger within two home runs of 700. 

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Only three players in AL/NL history have hit 700 home runs -- Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth -- 

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and Pujols is making a charge to join them before he retires at the end of this season.

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The Cardinals have 17 games remaining after the 6-5 win at Busch Stadium for Pujols to try to hit at least two more home runs.

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“At the end of the day, it’s just about whatever you can do to help this ballclub,” Pujols said.

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“Obviously, when they come in a big situation like this it’s awesome. We’re pushing to try and win the division, and this is what we need.”

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Five of Pujols’ past six home runs have either tied the game or given the Cardinals the lead.

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“I like when he homers then,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol joked. “That was a big swing. 

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He continues to do it in meaningful situations, and that’s what matters.

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It would be one thing if he was just chasing [700], but he’s taking an unbelievable approach and then delivering when we need it most.

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 Is he chasing 700? Yes, but he’s chasing a championship more than that.”

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