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Pujols' milestone homer brings smiles to Cardinals

NEW YORK -- The Cardinals saw the first 445 of Albert Pujols' home runs live.

They were thrilled to hear about No. 500.

When Pujols hit the milestone home run on Tuesday night in Washington, word quickly circulated through the Cardinals' dugout at Citi Field. No one was surprised; plenty of people seemed very happy.

"It's awesome," Matt Holliday said. "Incredible. I'm really happy for him. He's swinging the bat like the Albert I know, and it looks like he's having fun."

The Cardinals who knew Pujols the best expected him to bounce back after a difficult first two seasons with the Angels. They saw his determination over the winter, and they saw tape of how he looked in Spring Training.

"[Yadier Molina] and I knew he was going to have a great year," said Adam Wainwright, who beat the Mets on Tuesday for his fourth win of the season. "You could tell. He's going to be in the MVP talks."

As a teammate for six years, Wainwright benefited from plenty of Pujols home runs.

"I'm so excited for him," he said. "He's a great friend. Nobody deserves it more. He wants to be great. He already is great."

Many of the current Cardinals were with Pujols in Washington four years ago, when he hit his 400th home run. This time, they could only hear about it and celebrate from afar.

"I'm a huge Albert Pujols fan," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I'm fortunate to know him away from the field. I think any of these guys who were teammates of Albert realize what a player he is.

"This is a special guy. We're happy for him. He should be very proud."

Danny Knobler is a contributor to
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