Pujols hits 2 homers to help Angels beat Rays 6-2
The three-time NL MVP hit a pair of solo shots against the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner, and Matt Shoemaker took a shutout into the seventh inning to lead the Los Angeles Angels over the Tampa Bay Rays 6-2 Sunday.
''This is the same swing I've been taking the last couple of weeks, and nothing went my way,'' said Pujols, who ended an RBI drought of nine games and 39 at-bats Saturday night with a run-scoring double.
''Today I got some hits, so I was just glad I was able to contribute and help our ballclub win. As long as you stay positive and do the things you need to do and don't try to kill yourself in the cage because you're 0 for 10, you'll be fine. I've been around this game long enough that I know what I'm capable of doing.''
Pujols drove an 0-2 pitch over the center-field fence in the first inning, then capped the scoring in the seventh with his 12th homer of the season and 504th of his career, tying Eddie Murray for 25th place.
''Price is going to throw his game, but we had a game plan and we tried to execute it,'' said Pujols, who came in 0 for 7 against left-hander. ''The same way that we do our scouting report, they do theirs, so he knows how to pitch us. We just needed to make adjustments, and that's what we did. He made a couple of mistakes and we took advantage. With a guy like him, you need to be aggressive, because he's only going to give you one or two good pitches in four at-bats.''
Price (4-4) became the 319th pitcher Pujols has homered off in the regular season. Price has allowed five homers on an 0-2 count in his career, and Pujols has hit 21 under those circumstances.
''That's where I wanted to throw it, but that's what great hitters do with pitches that are up in the zone,'' Price said. ''He's one of the best hitters to ever play this game.''
Shoemaker (2-1) was charged with a run and two hits in six-plus innings. He struck out six, five days after earning his first major league win with a 4-3 victory at Philadelphia. The 27-year-old right-hander was lifted after issuing his third walk, to James Loney leading off the seventh.
''Shoe did an outstanding job today, and he did an outstanding job in Philly last week,'' Pujols said. ''Anytime you get a guy like that who's not really a true starter, and he comes up here and helps us win a game and a series, it's huge.''
Michael Morin relieved Shoemaker with a 5-0 lead and retired his first batter before Kevin Kiermaier hit his first big league homer - a drive to left that kept carrying until it disappeared in the lower seats in the left-field corner. That ended a career-opening streak of nine scoreless innings by Morin.
Price was charged with six runs - five earned - and 11 hits in 6 2-3 innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. He beat the Mariners 2-1 last Tuesday at Seattle with a complete game.
The three-time All-Star, who has allowed no more than one walk in a franchise-record 13 consecutive starts dating to last season, went to a three-ball count on five Angels batters. But he's paid the price for his major league-best strikeout-to-walk ratio. He's given up 78 hits, tying Philadelphia's Cliff Lee for most in the majors.
''That's part of it,'' Price said. ''I want those guys to put the ball in play because I have the utmost confidence in our defense. You're going to give up your hits sometimes, and sometimes they're going to be at guys.''
Howie Kendrick gave the Angels a 2-0 lead with a two-out RBI single in the third, and they increased the margin to 5-0 with three runs in the fourth after Price gave up three straight singles with none out. The third one was a drive by Grant Green over the head of left fielder Matt Joyce, scoring Erick Aybar.
''Price is an All-Star, he throws 95-97 (mph), he's got great stuff,'' Angels catcher Chris Iannetta said. ''So you don't try to be overly aggressive, because you can get yourself out on good pitches.''
NOTES: Price has allowed at least one home run in eight of his first 10 starts and 11 homers altogether, after giving up just two in his final 83 1-3 innings last season. ... Rays manager Joe Maddon has gotten at least seven innings from his starters in only two of the team's last 25 games - and Price was the pitcher both times. ... Price caught Cowgill, Mike Trout and Kendrick looking at third strikes in the first inning. ... Despite C.J. Wilson's five-hit shutout Saturday, the Angels have a 4.52 ERA at home compared to 2.88 on the road. ... Pujols has 48 multihomer games and two this season.