Pujols homers, Angels top Texas 6-0; benches clear at end
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Contributions from their grizzled slugger and emerging young pitcher helped get the Los Angeles Angels back on track.
Albert Pujols hit his 622nd career home run, rookie Jaime Barria threw six sharp innings and the Angels ended a two-game losing skid by defeating the Texas Rangers 6-0 on Friday night.
Pujols took Bartolo Colon (2-3) deep for the fourth time in his career with a two-run shot to left-center in the first inning. Pujols has eight homers this season, and needs eight more to tie Ken Griffey Jr. for sixth place in MLB history. He's also three RBIs away from tying Stan Musial's 1,951 for sixth-most.
Pujols went 2 for 4, and his single in the third inning was the 3,023rd hit of his career to tie Lou Brock for 27th place.
"He keeps going," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think his last 25 ABs he's feeling much more comfortable in the box. He's a tough out, especially with guys in scoring position."
While Pujols made his steady march up the record books, the emergence of Barria (5-1) continued by striking out six while allowing four hits and one walk. The 21-year-old righty has won four of his last five starts.
"His poise is well beyond what you'd expect for a young 21-year-old coming up to the major leagues," Scioscia said. "If he's gonna get hit, it's because the other team is better on that day."
That composure was evident in the top of the second when Barria struck out Ronald Guzman on three pitches following Rougned Odor's two-out double to put runners on second and third.
Ian Kinsler hit a two-run homer in the bottom half of the inning to give the Angels a 4-0 lead, and Andrelton Simmons and Martin Maldonado each drove in a run in the third.
Colon gave up six runs, eight hits and one walk in three innings.
"Really, it seemed like he couldn't get the ball down in the strike zone where he needed to," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He missed pitched out over the zone, and they didn't miss, so just a tough night for Bart."
The benches cleared after Guzman grounded into a game-ending double play, with Simmons taking exception over how Odor slid wide going into second base and resulted in a cut on the shortstop's left leg.
Pujols helped play peacemaker and the incident did not devolve into a physical altercation.
Odor and Banister both felt it was a clean play, but the three-time Gold Glove winner vehemently disagreed.
"When I get out of the way, I'm normally pretty good, so I don't have a problem normally," Simmons said when asked how often he gets spiked turning a double play.
The age difference between the starting pitchers was the largest in Angels' history, with the 45-year-old Colon holding the edge on Barria by 23 years and 55 days.
Barria noted that he was 1 when Colon started pitching in the majors.
"It was a great moment to share this outing with Bartolo on the other side," Barria said through an interpreter.
Rangers: RHP Tim Lincecum (blister) gave up one unearned run in two innings during a rehab assignment at Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday. Lincecum's stint on the 60-day disabled list will end Tuesday, at which point the Rangers will have to activate or release the two-time Cy Young Award winner.
Angels: 2B Zack Cozart underwent an MRI after missing his third straight games because of tightness in his left forearm. Scioscia did not know the result of the scan, but said Cozart was feeling better and did not expect him to go on the disabled list. ... Shohei Ohtani, who went 1 for 3 with a double, could make his next start as a pitcher on Wednesday. "That's the date we have penciled, but we can adjust," Scioscia said.
Rangers: LHP Cole Hamels (3-5, 3.74 ERA) has fared well in his five career starts at Angel Stadium, going 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA. Hamels has never allowed more than two earned runs in a start at the Big A.
Angels: RHP Garrett Richards (4-4, 4.67) is 9-4 with a 3.11 ERA in 22 career games against Texas, including 18 starts. However, Richards is 0-3 in his last five starts against the Rangers since picking up his last win on Sept. 4, 2015.