Gonzalez HR lifts Braves into first

Atlanta – Alex Gonzalez got the fly ball he wanted.

It was just a bonus that the drive cleared the left-field wall.

Gonzalez hit a three-run homer in the 12th inning as the Atlanta Braves beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-3, on Saturday to move into a tie for the National League East lead.

With runners on first and third and the outfielders playing shallow to guard against a sacrifice fly, Gonzalez hit the winning shot off Mitchell Boggs.

“I tried to hit a fly ball deep,” Gonzalez said. “I got it deep enough.”

The Braves improved their major league-best home record to 51-20 and grabbed a share of the division lead with the Philadelphia Phillies, who lost to the New York Mets, 4-3.

Albert Pujols had three RBI for St. Louis, giving him 102 for the year and 10 straight seasons with more than 100 RBI.

“I play aggressive,” Pujols said when asked about the milestone. “Nobody can take that away from me. … I try to do everything I can to help my team.”

Gonzalez was 0-for-5 before connecting for his fifth homer since he joined Atlanta in a July trade with Toronto. He struck out with the bases loaded to end the first inning and struck out again in the seventh with two runners on base.

Gonzalez made the most of his one hit.

“He crushed that ball,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “He had a few chances today and he didn’t get it done, but boy he did in that inning.”