Angels power up to defeat Rangers, 8-4

Angels first baseman Albert Pujols is greeted by Peter Bourjos as he returns to the dugout following a home run in the sixth inning Saturday afternoon in Texas.
(Paul Moseley / McClatchy-Tribune)

ARLINGTON, Texas — Josh Hamilton didn’t take it personally. As embarrassing as it was to have Texas intentionally walk Albert Pujols not once, not twice, but three times to pitch to Hamilton on Saturday, the Angels’ cleanup hitter understood — and agreed with — Rangers Manager Ron Washington’s strategy.

“I think it was a smart move,” Hamilton said after Pujols clubbed two home runs to lead the Angels to an 8-4 victory at the Ballpark in Arlington. “Albert was dominating today. If I was in that situation, I would have done the same thing.”

As dismal a day as it was for Hamilton, who was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts amid another round of deafening boos and is batting .050 (one for 20) with 10 strikeouts this season, he could not drag his club down.

BOX SCORE: Angels 8, Rangers 4

Pujols, starting at designated hitter, led a 12-hit attack with his 45th career multi-homer game, ripping a two-run shot to center in the first inning and a solo shot to left in the sixth to help the Angels end a streak in which they lost three one-run games and their offense sputtered.


“We know it’s a long season, but you don’t want to wait too long,” said Pujols, who did not hit his first homer last season until May 6. “You want to try to get it going early. We know we can swing that bats. We didn’t do that in the first four games. It’s good to see our offense help our pitchers out.”

The 476th and 477th homers of his career moved Pujols past Stan Musial and Willie Stargell and into 28th place on baseball’s all-time home run list. He became only the third player in major league history to hit two homers and be intentionally walked three times in the same game.

Mark Trumbo capped a four-run first with a two-run homer to right, his first of the season, and Peter Bourjos led off the sixth with a homer to left-center.

Tommy Hanson, making his Angels debut after November’s trade from Atlanta, gave up three runs and six hits, including solo homers by Mitch Moreland and Ian Kinsler in the third, in six innings, an extremely effective performance considering the strong winds that aided many fly balls.

“Tommy did a great job,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “I don’t know if we finished batting practice with any baseballs. That ball was flying. It was going out to every part of the yard, and it seemed like anything in the air was going off the wall or going out. Under those conditions, Tommy kept his focus and pitched his game.”

On the flip side was Hamilton, who followed free passes to Pujols with three-pitch strikeouts in the second and fourth innings and a fly to left in the eighth.

Only six times before Saturday had hitters in front of Hamilton been walked intentionally, and the former Rangers slugger admitted it stung a little more coming in his former home park.

“If this was somewhere else, the same thing would be going on,” Hamilton said. “But the fact that it’s here stinks.”