ANAHEIM, Calif. – Albert Pujols hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh inning and Kole Calhoun also connected, leading the Los Angeles Angels to an 8-7 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday in the rubber game of the three-game series.
The Blue Jays took a 7-6 lead in the sixth on Dioner Navarro’s two-out RBI single against Fernando Salas, making his second appearance off the disabled list after missing 19 games because of inflammation in his shoulder.
But Pujols responded with a drive that hit the top of the centre-field fence beyond the outstretched glove of Colby Rasmus and bounced over for his 20th homer of the season and 512th of his career, tying Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews for 21st place all-time. It scored Mike Trout, who reached on a fielder’s choice grounder after Calhoun drew a leadoff walk from Aaron Loup (2-2).
Jason Grilli (1-1) pitched a scoreless inning for his first AL victory since 2009 with the Texas Rangers, striking out cleanup hitter Jose Bautista with two men on to end the seventh. The 12-year veteran right-hander was acquired on June 27 in a trade that sent Ernesto Frieri to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Joe Smith pitched the ninth for his 12th save.
Marcus Stroman was charged with five earned runs and eight hits through 4 2-3 innings in his eighth big league start. The 23-year-old right-hander’s teammates staked him to a 6-3 lead with a five-run fourth, but David Freese scored on a wild pitch in the bottom half and Calhoun drove his 10th homer into the lower seats in the right-field corner.
The Blue Jays parlayed three hits, two errors and a bases-loaded wild pitch into their five-run rally against C.J. Wilson. Wilson was charged with six runs – three earned – and eight hits in 3 1-2 innings. He is 3-3 with a 5.70 ERA in 10 starts since May 17, when he threw 127 pitches in a five-hit shutout of Tampa Bay.
The Angels took a 2-0 lead in the second, capitalizing on a two-base fielding error by shortstop Jose Reyes on a routine grounder that went right through the four-time All-Star’s legs. Howie Kendrick and Freese came through with RBI singles, but Stroman minimized the damage by striking out Hank Conger and Calhoun with two men on.
The Blue Jays got one of the runs back in the third on a bases-loaded walk to Reimold, which followed a two-out intentional pass to Bautista. First base was open because of a video challenge reversal involving a high throw by third baseman Freese that pulled first baseman C.J. Cron off the bag on a grounder by Cabrera. Umpire Brian Gorman’s original safe call was overturned after replays showed that Cron touched the bag before Cabrera did.
Trout, who was thrown out by Cabrera from left field on Tuesday night as he tried to stretch a double into a triple, tested Cabrera’s arm again in the third inning and was gunned down at home plate after Pujols’ single. Pujols continued to second on the throw and scored on a single by Josh Hamilton, which ended his 0 for 16 drought and gave the Angels a 3-1 lead.
© The Canadian Press, 2014