Angels ride Pujols’ 3-run blast by Astros
HOUSTON -- Home runs for Albert Pujols at Minute Maid Park are so routine that the shock is far greater when he doesn’t deliver in the clutch against the Astros as opposed to when he does what he did in the fifth inning Tuesday night.
Pujols blasted his 29th career home run at Minute Maid Park, a decisive three-run shot in the Los Angeles Angels’ 5-2 victory over the Houston Astros.
Pujols’ second home run of the season and 593rd of his career came against Astros right-hander Joe Musgrove (1-1) with one out, plated teammates Yunel Escobar and Mike Trout, and helped snap the Angels’ six-game skid. Pujols has 54 career home runs against the Astros, his most against any club.
”Just try to get a good pitch to hit,“ said Pujols, who finished 1-for-4. ”With the infield in, the last thing you want to do is hit a ground ball somewhere and not be able to do your job. Just get a good pitch and execute. That’s what I did.
“You are always pleased anytime you get an opportunity to help the team win. That’s my job. I just put my best swing on it. I‘m glad we came out with a win.”
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons snapped an 0-for-11 skid with his opposite-field, solo homer off Musgrove in the second. That blast snapped a 21-inning scoreless drought for the Angels (7-8).
The bottom third of the Angels order -- Simmons, second baseman Danny Espinosa and catcher Martin Maldonado -- went a combined 5-for-11 with a walk.
“I wasn’t very good with 7-8-9 tonight,” Musgrove said. “I think they got on five or six times. Those are the guys I need to get out, especially when you’ve got the top of the lineup coming up like theirs.”
The Astros (9-5) had their five-game winning streak snapped despite first baseman Yuli Gurriel and center fielder George Springer belting home runs in the third inning. For Gurriel, it marked his first home run of the season. Springer has tied Brewers outfielder Eric Thames for the major league lead with seven homers.
Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (1-2) delivered a solid start for Los Angeles, allowing two runs on eight hits with three strikeouts over six innings.
“There’s no panic,” Nolasco said. “Solo homers aren’t going to kill you. One (to Gurriel) was a mistake, a terrible mistake. It got hit. It happens. The other was a 3-2 count. I challenged him (Springer) and he won. Sometimes he pops it up. He won the battle. I tip my hat to him.”
Closer Cam Bedrosian recorded a six-out save by inducing an inning-ending double play after inheriting a runner in the eighth before getting Nori Aoki to ground out back to the mound with two runners in scoring position in the ninth.
Two close plays prevented Musgrove from preserving his 2-1 lead in the fifth. Maldonado beat out a throw from third baseman Marwin Gonzalez for a leadoff infield single and, with one out, Trout lined an RBI double just out of the reach of a diving Springer in right-center field.
Instead of facing Pujols with two outs and one runner on, Musgrove surrendered the three-run blast on an 0-1 inside fastball that Pujols parked just inside the left-field foul pole. Musgrove departed at the close of the fifth inning having allowed five runs on eight hits and one walk with five strikeouts.
“He threw a ton of strikes tonight and they were able to foul off a lot of pitches, extend some innings,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said of Musgrove. “From a pitch count standpoint, he never had an easy inning, and that seems to be the case in a few starts this year.”
NOTES: The Angels acquired RHP Parker Bridwell from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later. Bridwell posted a 13.50 ERA over two appearances with the Orioles last season. To make room for Bridwell on the 40-man roster, the Angels transferred RHP Huston Street to the 60-day disabled list. Street was on the 10-day DL with a lat strain but could not maintain his rehab progression due to a mild shoulder impingement, according to published reports. ... Astros SS Carlos Correa missed a second consecutive game with lingering soreness in his left hand. Correa was hit by a pitch Saturday in Oakland. The club is not considering a disabled list stint for Correa. ... By striking out the side in the sixth inning Monday night, Astros RHP Chris Devenski reached 20 strikeouts in 10 innings, matching the team record for the fewest innings to reach 20 strikeouts. LHP Billy Wagner set that mark in 1999.