Albert Pujols broke out of a 5-for-44 slump in a big way Sunday afternoon. He homered twice off Tampa Bay starter David Price in the Angels’ 6-2 victory, passing Eddie Murray for 25th on the all-time list.
In the first inning, Price (4-4) struck Mike Trout out on seven consecutive fastballs and followed the same approach with Pujols. Unfortunately for the left-hander, an 0-2 heater was tattooed over the center field wall, giving the Angels a 1-0 lead.
Pujols’ 12th homer of the season also came against Price when he lined a changeup in the left field tunnel. The pair give Pujols 504 in his career-five behind Gary Sheffield all-time- and ties him with Nelson Cruz for second most in the American League. It was also Pujols’ first multi-home run game since hitting two against Washington April 22.
Matt Shoemaker limited the struggling Rays offense to two hits through six innings in his second start since moving to the starting rotation. The only earned run he allowed came after walking James Loney to begin the seventh. Shoemaker (2-1) was replaced by Mike Morin, who served up a two-run shot to center fielder Kevin Kiermaier.
Price, who allowed six runs in his only start against the Halos last season, gave up six Sunday; an unearned run scored on Evan Longoria’s error in the fourth.
After Grant Green rocketed an RBI double over left fielder Matt Joyce’s head, Luiz Jimenez laid down a sacrifice bunt to move runners into scoring position. Collin Cowgill bounced a cutter towards Longoria which ricochet off his wrist and into left field, scoring Green and Chris Iannetta. The Angels were 2-for7 with RISP and left six men on base.
The tandem of Joe Smith and Ernesto Frieri pitched the last two frames, respectively; each yielding one hit while striking out two. Frieri didn’t get the save but tossed his fourth consecutive shutout inning.
The Angels took three of four from Tampa Bay, scoring six runs in each victory. They’re 8-2 since losing two in a row to New York May 6-7 and remain 3 ½ games behind division-leading Oakland.