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Thursday, Nov. 26, 2009

Pujols earns second consecutive NL MVP award

NEW YORK (AP) Albert Pujols' third National League MVP award put him in select company. Only Barry Bonds has more.

News photo
No question: Albert Pujols was unanimously voted the National League's MVP on Tuesday. AP PHOTO

"I'm just humbled," Pujols said.

Pujols won unanimously Tuesday, becoming the first player to repeat since Bonds won four in a row from 2001-04. Pujols, who also won in 2005, received all 32 first-place votes and 448 points in balloting announced by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He became the first unanimous MVP since Bonds in 2002.

A big part of the Cardinals' success this year was the acquisition of Matt Holliday in July. Holliday, who hit cleanup behind Pujols, helped St. Louis win the NL Central and then became a free agent.

"The whole city of St. Louis wants Matt back and myself, obviously," Pujols said. "He came at the right time, right when we needed it, right when we were struggling a little bit."

While the Cardinals have five division titles and six playoff appearances in nine seasons since Pujols joined the team, they have won the World Series only once, in 2006.

"I always make a joke. I got 10 fingers. I want to get nine more rings," he said. "I want to get as many as Derek Jeter has so far (five). Obviously that's hard to do."

Pujols does have one individual goal — the Hall of Fame.

"Obviously, there is still a long way to go," he said.

Pujols led the majors in homers (47), runs (124), slugging percentage (.658) and intentional walks (44), and topped the NL in on-base percentage (.443). He was second in the league in doubles (45) and third in batting average (.327) and RBIs (135).

He was especially dangerous with the bases loaded, going 10-for-17 with five grand slams, three doubles and 35 RBIs.

"I think it was the most consistent year," he said. "I was pretty much hot April until almost September."

Florida's Hanley Ramirez, the NL batting champion, was second with 233 points, followed by Philadelphia's Ryan Howard (217) and Milwaukee's Prince Fielder (203), who tied Howard for the big league lead in RBIs at 141.

Pujols didn't homer in his final 89 regular and postseason at-bats after Sept. 9, then had surgery Oct. 21 to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. He had feared he might need ligament replacement, which probably would have forced him to miss the first half of next season.

"My elbow was fine," Pujols said. "I don't put that as an excuse. I was still playing every day out there."

Pujols, who turns 30 in January, joined Hall of Famer Al Simmons (11) as the only players with 100 or more RBIs in each of their first nine seasons. Pujols also set a big league record for assists by a first baseman with 185.

Feds seek rehearing

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Solicitor General Elena Kagan asked for an unprecedented reconsideration of an appeals court ruling that government agents illegally seized drug-testing samples and records of baseball players who allegedly tested positive for steroids in 2003.

Kagan and 22 lawyers from the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney's offices asked the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals to have all 27 of its judges rehear the long-running case that involves the results of 104 players the government says tested positive during baseball's 2003 survey.

Although the names of the players in dispute are under seal and were to remain confidential, the identities of four have been leaked to the media: Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and Sammy Sosa.

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