Pujols' RBI single in 9th lifts Angels over Rangers 4-3
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Albert Pujols' first RBI of the season came at a very opportune time for the Los Angeles Angels after a pair of season-opening losses.
Pujols delivered a bases-loaded single with two outs in the ninth inning to give the Angels their first victory, 4-3 over the Texas Rangers on Thursday night.
''I love that situation,'' said Pujols, whose next RBI will be his 1,700th in the regular season. ''It has happened for the 16 years I've been playing this game, and it's going to happen many times the rest of my career. The more at-bats you have, the more comfortable you are and the more you want it.''
Yunel Escobar drove in the Angels' first two runs with a homer and RBI single in the opener of a four-game series.
Sam Dyson, who escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the Angels' eighth, gave up a one-out single by Johnny Giavotella in the ninth and a walk to Escobar. Both advanced on a grounder to third by pinch-hitter Carlos Perez, and Pujols greeted Shawn Tolleson with a line drive to left-center on a 1-0 pitch after Andrew Faulkner's intentional walk to Mike Trout.
''You know what? It doesn't matter what they do with Trout. I still need to stay focused and just try to get a good pitch to hit,'' Pujols said. ''I would do the same thing if I was the manager in that situation. Mike is the best player in the game, and as a manager, you don't want the best player in the game to beat you.''
Huston Street (1-0) pitched a perfect inning to get the win. The Angels had lost 9-0 and 6-1 to the Chicago Cubs in their first two games.
Trout led off the Angels' eighth with a single against Keone Kela, and Pujols followed with an infield hit off Dyson (0-1). C.J. Cron's dribbler up the third-base line also went for a hit, but Dyson struck out Kole Calhoun and retired Andrelton Simmons on a double-play grounder to third base.
''I had to strike out somebody to get out of that situation, then I got a ground-ball double play after that,'' Dyson said. ''I'm kind of a ground-ball guy, so it's not out of the realm to do that.
''I felt fine mentally going out for the ninth, but I just didn't do the job. There are three outs in an inning, and sometimes it's a little hard to get those three outs.''
Angels left-hander Hector Santiago was lifted in the seventh with a 3-2 lead after singles by Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland gave Texas runners at the corners with none out. Elvis Andrus tied it with a sacrifice fly against Fernando Salas.
Texas starter Derek Holland took a 2-1 lead into the fifth before walking two of his first three batters. Calhoun scored on Escobar's two-out single, and Craig Gentry drove in Geovany Soto with a double inside third base on a 3-2 pitch.
Santiago allowed three runs -two earned - and four hits in six-plus innings with seven strikeouts and two walks. He gave up only one hit over the first five innings, a first-pitch homer by No. 9 hitter Robinson Chirinos leading off the third.
''He was awesome,'' Pujols said. ''If you look at his last two starts in spring training and that game he threw against the Dodgers, he reminded me of when he was with the White Sox. His velocity was up, he was pumping 93, 94 consistently, pounding the strike zone and using his cutter and changeup.''
Holland gave up three runs, four hits and two walks in five innings and struck out five in his season debut. The 29-year-old lefty threw only one inning in his first start last season and spent the next four months on the disabled list with a strained shoulder.
Rangers: 3B Adrian Beltre was 0 for 4 on his 37th birthday. He has played 14 games on this date, going 9 for 50 with a homer and five RBIs. ... It was the first road game of the season for the Rangers, who led the AL with a 45-36 road record last year en route to the West Division title. ... Holland beat the Halos last Oct. 1 at Arlington to clinch a postseason berth for Texas.
Angels: Escobar led the AL with a .450 spring training batting average and did not strike out in 65 plate appearances. ... SS Simmons was presented with his 2015 Wilson defensive player of the year award at home plate before the game. ... Santiago was 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA in six starts against Texas last season.
Rangers: RHP A.J. Griffin will have his contract purchased from Triple-A Round Rock on Friday to start the second game of the series, marking his first big league appearance since Sept. 24, 2013, with Oakland. He signed with Texas as a free agent in December after missing the previous two seasons following Tommy John surgery.
Angels: RHP Matt Shoemaker is 4-0 with a 2.39 ERA in four career starts against the Rangers.