Howard, Pujols both homer in three straight at-bats

(AP)-Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard homered in his first three at-bats of Philadelphia’s doubleheader split against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, and St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols matched the feat in the Cardinals’ 6-3 win over Pittsburgh.

It marked the first time two players homered in their first three plate appearances on the same day since Johnny Bench and Orlando Cepeda on July 26, 1970.

“I’m sure a day like today is going to be one of those days where I wake up and am like, ‘Did that really happen?'” Howard said after the Phillies won the opener 8-7.

Howard, who connected three times off Braves starter Tim Hudson, leads the major leagues with 53 homers and 134 RBIs as of Sept. 4. His 50th homer was a solo shot in the second inning, and he followed with a two-run drive in the third. His third homer was an opposite-field, solo shot to left in the sixth that made it 6-1.

Pujols connected with the bases empty in the first and hit two-run drives in the third and fifth, all off Pirates starter Ian Snell. It was his third three-homer game, his second of the season, and with 42 homers he reached the 40-mark for the fourth straight season. Pujols said he never tries to hit homers.

“Was I trying to hit the first one, the second one, the third one?” Pujols said. “No, I just try to have good at-bats. Like I say, it’s not about me, it’s about my team.”