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Warning shots: Suddenly potent Pujols powers Cardinals to No. 1


If Albert Pujols returns to his usual form the rest of the season, the rest of the National League can blame the Cubs. The Cardinals' Pujols has long tormented his division rivals up I-55, and last weekend was no exception.

Pujols homered in all three games of the series, the first time he had done that since Aug. 2007, also against the Cubs. On Saturday and Sunday he hit walkoff homers in consecutive games, the first NL player to do so since the Cubs' Ron Santo in 1966. Overall, Pujols is batting .500 with four homers in six games against Chicago this season.

The Cubs series was Pujols' most prolific of a three-series stretch in which he's had multiple hits in five games and gone 14-for-35 (.400) with six home runs and 11 RBIs. St. Louis had already risen to first in the NL Central and second in the overall league standings before Pujols' hot streak. Should he revert to his normal Pujolsian ways at the plate, the Cardinals will be a terror this summer.

This recent outburst from the best player of the 21st century -- combined with St. Louis' two-game sweep of Philadelphia last month -- gives the Redbirds a slight edge over the Phillies for this week's top spot.

NOTE: All stats are updated through Wednesday, June 8.

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