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. LOUIS -- Albert Pujols laughed at the scrutiny over his longball drought, saying it couldve lasted twice as long -- three times, even -- and he still wouldve been the same dangerous presence at the plate. The three-time NL MVP, generally acknowledged as the best player in the game, wondered why so many people were obsessed about his 105 at-bat stretch between home runs that ended late last month. The slump certainly raised questions throughout baseball. Did his surgically repaired right elbow hurt? Were his occasionally troublesome hamstrings barking? Was he stressed out over impending free agency? Was he somehow slowing down at age 31? "Whats the big deal?" Pujols said Friday afternoon. "Give me a break." A few hours later, the St. Louis Cardinals slugger began a binge that muted all concerns. In a weekend sweep of the Chicago Cubs, Pujols homered four times and drove in eight runs. He hit a game-winning homer in the 12th inning Saturday. He then launched a game-ending shot in the 10th inning Sunday, punctuating it with a prolonged follow-through and a high-stepping dance into a home plate celebration. The power show put Pujols among the league leaders with a team-leading 13 homers and thriving even with cleanup hitter Matt Holliday on the 15-day disabled list with a quadriceps injury. So much for all that fuss. "Albert," said Rodrigo Lopez, who served up Sundays big home run, "is pretty hot right now." Pujols clearly knew what he was capable of doing. Prior to the series opener against the Cubs, he posed his own question. "How many times did I hit 14 home runs in one month? Search it, search about it. You should know that," Pujols challenged. "You know what the problem is, the good things never hit the paper." Answer: Pujols hit 14 in April 2006 and June 2009. The point: Hell sometimes have a slow month, such as this May and September 2002 when he hit only two, and July 2009 when he had four. Cardinals batting coach Mark McGwire received the same treatment during his home run heyday in the late 1990s, facing questions about perceived slumps after as few as a dozen at-bats. At one point in those days, Big Mac loudly asked media assembled by his locker stall if they had wives and families to go home to. Now, its worse. "The expectations of the media, the social network, everybody," McGwire said. "They want to have a new story and talk about something." Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Pujols is capable of fixing his own problems. Evidence is the unrelenting metronome production Pujols has cranked out the best opening decade to a career in major league history with a solid string of 30-homer, 100-RBI, .300 average seasons. During Pujols first real bout of adversity, McGwire said there was no need for the two to spend more time than usual searching for answers. A bit of fine-tuning and hours of repetition would be enough, he said. "Its hard not to talk about how great this guy is and how hard he works. Its just unbelievable," McGwire said. "I really think it all comes down to pitch selection and the pitches he sees. "By the time the year is over people will see his numbers where theyve always been." Contrary to evidence, La Russa has been banging the Pujols drum all season, conceding only that the star was lunging after pitches the first week or 10 days of the season. Along with a so-so average that was up to .278 after a 10 for 23 splurge, Pujols was tied for the major league lead with 16 double-play balls. "A couple guys said he had buzzards luck," La Russa said. "In Alberts case I was surprised that after 10 years of making a statement, that there was that much concern." After Sundays game, La Russa said he witnessed "greatness in person." "We see it every day for 10 years, two months. Hoping for a lousy single and he hits it out of the park." A handful of times during his breakout weekend, Pujols declared that nobody in the major leagues had been hitting the ball as hard as he had the past month, and that hed simply had far more than his share of misfortune with balls that got caught at the warning track and with liners that were snared. "You follow me, you cant believe Im hitting .260," Pujols said. "Theres nothing I can do. Thats it, theres nothing you can do." The first truly humid homestand no doubt contributed to Pujols surge. The power alley to left-centre field is suddenly a jet stream, and the estimated distance of his no-doubt-about-it homer on Sunday was 446 feet, deep into the bleachers. Pujols homered twice Saturday and La Russa said both shots probably would have hung up in the air had Busch Stadium not been bathed in 30C-plus degree temperatures and shirt-soaking conditions. "The elements got him," La Russa said. "Thats why it was an unnecessary conversation for a long time about his power. Nothing wrong with his power." Ryan Fitzpatrick Jersey
. The middle game of the three-game series was called about two hours before the first pitch. There was no immediate word on a makeup date, but Indians manager Manny Acta indicated it might be rescheduled for mid-May. Torrey Smith Jersey
. -- Alberta is off to a terrific start at the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors curling championship with both the mens and womens teams sitting at 2-0 after three draws Saturday. Santonio Holmes Jersey
. The only guys standing between Lynch and the line were Ray Lewis and Jarret Johnson. He left Lewis and Johnson grasping at air and all but sealed the Seahawks surprising victory. Torrey Smith Jersey
. Cairo hit .249 last season with 23 runs batted in over 108 games with the Mariners. A veteran of 13 big league seasons, the 34-year-old is a career .266 hitter with 27 homers and 318 RBI for Toronto, the Cubs, Tampa Bay, St. Ryan Fitzpatrick Jersey
. -- Few 20-year-old outfielders attract the kind of attention Mike Trout is getting in spring training but then Trout isnt your everyday prospect.NEW YORK -- D.C. United coach Ben Olsen will lead the MLS All-Stars against UEFA Champions League winner Chelsea on July 25. Major League Soccer made the announcement Thursday in a release. Olsen, a five-time MLS All-Star and the leagues rookie of the year in 1998, has led United to a 9-4-3 start this season. United is in first place in the Eastern Conference, holdding a slim one-point lead over Sporting Kansas City. Joe Flacco Jersey
. Olsen called it a "huge honour." Serving as assistant coaches under Olsen will be Philadelphia Union interim manager John Hackworth, and the D.C. United technical staff of Chad Ashton, Pat Onstad and Sonny Silooy. The All-Star match will be held at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. ' ' '