Monday, May 19, 2014
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Pujols Homers Twice As Angels Dump Rays

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[May 19, 2014]  ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Albert Pujols emerged from a two-week slump to continue his journey among baseball's all-time greats.

The designated hitter hit two home runs Sunday, leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 6-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in front of 36,655 at Angel Stadium.

Pujols blasted solo shots in the first and seventh innings against left-hander David Price (4-4). The second homer was Pujols' 12th of the season and the 504th of his career, tying him with Hall of Famer Eddie Murray for 25th place all-time.

However, Pujols, a three-time National League Most Valuable Player, said he remains focused on winning games.

"That's my goal," said Pujols, whose team won three of four in the weekend series. "I've got plenty of time when I retire to look back."

From May 7 through Friday, Pujols went 4-for-38 (.105) without an RBI. He drove in a run Saturday night, then went 3-for-4 Sunday. Angels left fielder Grant Green also went 3-for-4.

"Timing can go away for a couple of games, maybe a series," Pujols said. "Sometimes it's not about timing. Sometimes you need more of a mental break.

"Today, I came here and I didn't pick up a bat until 12:15 to get ready for the game," which started at 12:35 p.m.

While Pujols and Green paced the offense, the Angels got a strong outing from Matt Shoemaker (2-1). The rookie right-hander permitted just one run, two hits and three walks in six-plus innings. Shoemaker induced eight groundouts and struck out six.

"He really showed good fastball command today," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He used his off-speed pitches well to set everything up."

Shoemaker took advantage of the Rays' recent struggles.

"On offense, we really haven't kicked it a whole lot on this road trip," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "We're just in a little bit of a funk right now."

Tampa Bay's only runs came when center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, playing his third game, hit his first major league homer, a two-run drive in the seventh inning. The home run cut Los Angeles' lead to 5-2.

The Angels used Pujols' first home run to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first after defusing a Tampa Bay threat in the top of the inning.

Rays right fielder Wil Myers walked with one out and moved to third base on left fielder Matt Joyce's single. However, third baseman Evan Longoria and first baseman James Loney flied out.

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Pujols then pounded an 0-2 fastball over the center field fence for his first homer since May 4.

Three consecutive singles in the second inning gave Los Angeles a 2-0 lead, with second baseman Howie Kendrick's ground ball up the middle bringing home center fielder Mike Trout.

The Angels then combined three hits, a sacrifice and an error into three runs in the fourth to build a 5-0 advantage.

Green's single scored shortstop Erick Aybar. After third baseman Luis Jimenez sacrificed, right fielder Collin Cowgill hit a ground ball through Longoria's legs to send catcher Chris Iannetta and Green across the plate. Cowgill received one RBI, and Longoria was charged with an error.

After Kiermaier put Tampa Bay on the board, Pujols followed in the bottom of the seventh with a solo drive into the stands down the left field line.

Price, who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2012, allowed six runs (five earned) and 11 hits while striking out seven in 6 2/3 innings. He didn't issue a walk.

Kiermaier made a leaping, one-handed catch against the wall to take a home run away from Aybar in the second.

NOTES: Tampa Bay 2B Cole Figueroa made his first major league start and went 0-for-3. The Rays recalled Figueroa on Wednesday to replace 2B Ben Zobrist (dislocated left thumb). ... Rays LHP David Price leads the American League lead in innings pitched (69 1/3). He and Texas LHP Martin Perez are tied for the lead in complete games, each with two. ... Tampa Bay C Ryan Hanigan did not play for the second consecutive game. Hanigan left Friday night's game due to a right hamstring injury. ... Los Angeles SS Erick Aybar, who went 1-for-4, is batting .323 (32-for-99) over his past 24 games. He was batting .175 before the hot streak.



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