Pirates can’t maintain strong start in loss to Angels
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols doesn’t want to talk about his growing list of accomplishments until his career comes to an end.
That leaves the task to the rest of baseball, and they are running out of ways to describe Pujols’ illustrious time in the game.
Pujols had two hits and three RBIs Wednesday and set the major league record for career hits by a foreign-born player, leading the Angels to a 7-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“I mean, what more can we say? He’s one of the greatest players to ever play the game, one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “And he’s going to pass some other names I’m sure that are very well known and have plaques hanging in Cooperstown.
Pujols had an RBI single in the 4th inning. His 3,167th hit moved him past fellow Dominican Republic native Adrian Beltre (3,166) and into sole possession of 15th place for career hits.
“He just keeps doing what he does,” said Dillon Peters (3-1), who allowed two runs in six innings while striking out six after an erratic start. “Everybody here looks up to him, and it’s just awesome to watch him chase his dream and chase all the milestones he’s already overcome. And there’s going to be more to come.”
Luis Rengifo also drove in two runs for the Angels, who snapped a three-game home losing streak.
Melky Cabrera and Elias Diaz each had an RBI for the Pirates, who failed to complete a three-game sweep of the Angels. Pittsburgh has not won three in a row since July 1-3, against the Chicago Cubs.
Chris Archer (3-9) allowed four runs, three earned, in five innings, and his streak of starts without a win reached 12 games. It is the longest such span in Archer’s eight-year career.
The Angels scored four runs in the fourth inning to erase a two-run deficit. Los Angeles moved in front on Rengifo’s double to left field. The Pirates’ Bryan Reynolds overran the ball when it dropped in, and it bounced all the way to warning track. Rengifo kept running, rounding third and sliding headfirst into home to give the Angels a two-run lead.
The 39-year-old Pujols drove in Los Angeles’ first run with his record-setting single, helping spark the struggling Angels to their fifth win in the past 18 games. David Fletcher followed with an RBI double that tied the game at 2-all.
“Forget about the record. It’s my job to come here every night and try to help this ball club to win when I can,” Pujols said. “With my defense or with my offense when I get that opportunity, and that’s what I did tonight. It was an effort where everybody contributed.”
After Pittsburgh pulled within 4-3 in the seventh inning, with Diaz scoring from third when Erik Gonzalez hit into a double play, Pujols put the Angels ahead 6-3 with a two-run single in the eighth inning. It was another example of Pujols’ knack for delivering in “prime time,” as Pirates manager Clint Hurdle described it.
“Later on in the game, clutch situations, I’ve seen him be really, really good,” Hurdle said. “And he’s still driving in runs.”
Rengifo drove in Pujols to make it 7-3, before Diaz had an RBI single in the ninth inning for the final margin of victory.