Pujols keys Angels' 8th-inning rally to 5-2 win over Rockies
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Rafael Betancourt wasn't even in his windup when Albert Pujols surprised every soul in Angel Stadium by taking off for second, stealing his first base of the season by a mile.
With Los Angeles' burly slugger running wild on the basepaths, the Angels' latest comeback win was no surprise in comparison.
Pujols stole second base and scored the tiebreaking run on Johnny Giavotella's single in the eighth inning, and the Angels sent the Colorado Rockies to their 10th consecutive defeat, 5-2 Tuesday night.
Pujols snapped his 0-for-13 skid with an eighth-inning leadoff single against Betancourt (0-1). He then got an enormous jump on the Rockies reliever, who clearly hadn't even thought about holding Pujols close.
So what got into Pujols, who hadn't stolen a base since Aug. 15?
''I've got the green light all the time, so I go whenever I feel like it,'' Pujols said. ''If I know that I'm going to make it, I go. That's it. ... In that opportunity, (the way) we've been struggling, you try to do whatever it takes to get that extra base. I felt that I could score easier from second base than first base.''
After Pujols scored on Giavotella's single, Los Angeles' entire dugout was buzzing. The stolen base was the 99th of Pujols' 2,148-game career.
''Nobody expected that from the big fella,'' Mike Trout said. ''That was a big play in that game for us. You never know what Albert is going to do.''
After Giavotella came up with his sixth game-winning RBI of his first season with Los Angeles, Matt Joyce then drove in two more runs with a hit-and-run double to center for the Angels, who have won five of seven. Joyce's hit snapped his 0-for-12 slump and gave him his first three-RBI game with his new team.
''We weren't getting too many good looks early at the plate, but the eighth inning was fun,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
C.J. Wilson (2-2) pitched eight innings of five-hit ball for the Angels, striking out six and walking one to end his five start winless streak. Huston Street pitched the ninth for his 11th save.
Corey Dickerson had an RBI double for the Rockies, who have lost 16 of 20 since their 7-2 start. Colorado blew an early 2-0 lead and then lost when Pujols sparked the Angels' rally.
''Typically, Albert's not a base stealer, so Raffy wasn't paying a lot of attention to him over there,'' Colorado manager Walt Weiss said. ''Albert timed him up and guessed right and took off.''
Kyle Kendrick began the night with baseball's highest ERA after yielding 32 runs in his previous 26 innings, but the right-hander pitched seven innings of seven-hit ball.
''I got in a groove early and stuck with it,'' Kendrick said. ''I wanted to establish my sinker and changeup early and work off of that. I really wanted to just focus on pitching down, because when I've gotten hit, everything was up.''
Wilson was even better in one of his most consistent starts of the season, yielding just one hit in his final four innings.
Kole Calhoun had two doubles among his three hits and also made a spectacular diving catch on Charlie Blackmon's sinking flare in the fifth inning. Trout went 0 for 3.
Marc Krauss made his Angels debut, going 0 for 3 and playing first base. Los Angeles hopes he'll provide a left-hitting option in their righty-heavy lineup.
Rockies: RHP LaTroy Hawkins pitched in early batting practice, facing hitters for the first time since going on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis.
Angels: Krauss played first base because Scioscia wanted to rest Pujols' legs for a second straight day. ... Scioscia won't alter his rotation with two days off this week, which means RHP Matt Shoemaker will take his regular turn in the rotation this weekend in Baltimore. Shoemaker has yielded 10 homers already this season.
Rockies: Jordan Lyles (2-3, 4.42 ERA) has lost his last two starts, both against Arizona.
Angels: Hector Santiago (2-2, 2.57 ERA) wraps up Los Angeles' nine-game homestand with his seventh start of a solid season.