ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — It took a milestone hit by Albert Pujols to give the Los Angeles Angels their first lead of the week.
Pujols drove a go-ahead, two-run homer into the seats in right-center in the sixth inning for career hit No. 2,992 and the Angels beat the San Francisco Giants 4-3 on Saturday night to snap an ugly four-game losing streak.
Mike Trout and Jefry Marte also went deep for the Angels, and Garrett Richards matched his career high with 11 strikeouts in six innings. The Giants struck out 17 times.
Pujols, 38, hit a no-doubt, opposite-field shot to right-center on an 0-1 pitch from lefty Derek Holland with one out in the sixth.
“I just got a good pitch up and away and went with it,” said Pujols, who went 1 for 4 as the designated hitter. “I think I’ve been swinging the bat pretty well, making solid contact.”
He needs eight hits to become the 32nd member of the 3,000-hit club. He went 1 for 4 as the designated hitter.
“Right now, that’s not my focus,” Pujols said. “I’m telling you from my heart it is what it is. I really don’t think about it. At the end of the day, it’s not about my numbers, it’s about helping this organization and helping this ballclub to win and that’s my main goal every day.”
His manager and teammates sure enjoyed the homer.
“It’s a huge hit at the time,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “He drove it the other way, which is a great sign for Albert. We haven’t scored many runs, haven’t had many leads this week, so there’s no doubt he gave us a big lift.”
Trout was waiting at the top step of the dugout to give Pujols a bro hug before the slugger began high-fiving teammates.
“We were all lit,” Richards said. “We were all excited. It put us ahead. He really looked like Albert Pujols again. He’s coming around. A lot of guys are coming around. Hopefully we’re coming out of this rut and can put together a good string of runs.”
Richards helped stop an embarrassing four-game pummeling. The Angels lost 8-1 to the Giants on Friday night after being outscored 27-3 in a three-game sweep by the Boston Red Sox.
“I don’t think the 30 guys that we have here are getting concerned about it,” Pujols said. “This is just the first month of the season.”
Pujols came up with runners on the corners and one out in the eighth and grounded into a double play.
Richards (3-0) held San Francisco to two runs and five hits, with one walk. Keynan Middleton got a four-out save, his fifth in as many chances.
“Lot of strikeouts tonight. We did some chasing,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Richards “went to the slider. He probably threw 50 percent sliders and we had a hard time laying off it, especially 3-2.”
All three Angels home runs were off Holland (0-3).
Trout homered into the rocks beyond the fence in center field an inning after nearly robbing Brandon Belt of a two-run homer. His second in as many games and his eighth overall, it came on 0-1 pitch and tied the game at 2.
In the second, Trout leaped and had Belt’s fly ball in his glove for a moment before it popped out when he hit the wall and it went over the yellow line. Pablo Sandoval was on second base after a strikeout-wild pitch followed by another wild pitch by Richards. It was Belt’s fourth homer.
“I had no idea,” Belt said. “I didn’t even know it was a home run. I thought it was a double. I couldn’t see.”
Said Trout: “If I’m a couple of steps toward right field, I make that catch.”
Marte homered with two outs in the second, his first.
San Francisco closed to 4-3 on Sandoval’s RBI double with two outs in the eighth. After Belt was intentionally walked, Middleton came on and struck out Evan Longoria. Middleton allowed Mac Williamson’s leadoff single in the ninth before retiring the side.
Giants: DH Buster Posey was a late scratch due to back tightness.
Angels: RHP Shohei Ohtani is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Sunday, and the Angels should know if he’s definitely good to make his next start after a blister on his right middle finger forced him out after just two innings against Boston on Tuesday night.
Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto (1-0, 0.45) is scheduled to start the series finale. Angel Stadium is the last current ballpark he hasn’t pitched in. He’s 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA in two starts against the Angels.
Angels: RHP Jaime Barria (1-0, 0.45) will be recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake to make his second start. He won his big league debut at Texas on April 11.
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