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Albert Pujols hits 569th career HR as Los Angeles Angels blank Texas Rangers

By
John Henry, The Sports Xchange
Los Angeles Angles' Albert Pujols is dunked with sports drink. UPI/Kevin Dietsch
Los Angeles Angles' Albert Pujols is dunked with sports drink. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Albert Pujols' creep up baseball's ladder of history hasn't been done silently, especially recently.

Pujols tied Rafael Palmeiro for 12th all-time with his 569th career home run, a two-run shot with two outs in the third inning that accounted for the only runs in the Los Angeles Angels' 2-0 shutout of the Texas Rangers on Monday night.

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The first baseman's ninth home run of the season, part of a 1-for-4 night, made a winner out of right-hander Nick Tropeano (3-2), who snapped Texas' three-game winning streak and continued a good run of Angels starting pitching.

Tropeano gave up four hits and struck out six over 6 2/3 innings for the Angels (21-24), who have won eight of their last 12 games and six of their last seven on the road. The 25-year-old retired 10 straight at one point, including the Rangers in the sixth on five pitches.

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"Outside of the maybe the first 10 games, Albert has hit the ball hard and he hit a couple of balls hard today that were caught. One went into the stands fortunately," Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's having a big year. That ball was tattooed."

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Pujols is hitting .340 over his last 12 games after beginning the season .182 over his first 18.

Right-hander Joe Smith worked the ninth for his sixth save of the season.

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Derek Holland (3-4) took his third consecutive loss for Texas (25-20), giving up Pujols' homer -- one of seven hits off the Texas lefty -- and a walk while striking out four over a season-high 62/3 innings. Holland retired 12 of the last 15 hitters he faced after Pujols' home run.

"You've got to tip your hat to Pujols," Holland said. "The ball came down the middle, and he's paid to hit the ball like that. I looked at the video right after I came out that inning, and it couldn't have been a better pitch for him.

Los Angeles' Mike Trout went 2-for-4 with a two-out double to start the Angels' rally in the third. Johnny Giavotella extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a base hit in the second and a double in the eighth.

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Los Angeles' rotation has an ERA of 3.00 in its last 11 outings.

Three Angels relievers preserved Tropeano's lead, but not without some issues.

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The Rangers threatened in the seventh with two-out singles from Elvis Andrus and Nomar Mazara. Right-hander Mike Morin relieved lefty Greg Mahle and induced an inning-ending flyout to right to end the inning.

In the eighth, Angels right-hander Fernando Salas loaded the bases with one out. But Texas' Adrian Beltre hit a soft liner that Giavotella dove to catch, and the Rangers' Mitch Moreland lined a ball back to the pitcher that Salas knocked down with his body, recovered and tossed to first for the final out.

"Just trying to get a barrel on it," Moreland said. "My aim wasn't too good obviously. I'll have to work on that tomorrow. It goes where it goes. Sometimes you don't hit it good and it falls in. Tonight wasn't one of those nights."

Texas left nine runners on base and were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

"We had some big outs," Scioscia said. "Nick got a couple of big outs early, Morin got a big out and Salas, obviously, the ball was hit hard by Moreland ... that was a bullet. Fortunately, it didn't hurt him and we got the out."

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Holland had successfully worked around base runners in each of the first two innings and had retired the first two hitters of the third when Trout's two-out double gave Pujols an opportunity.

The Angels first baseman drove a ball deep into the seats in left-center field to give his team a 2-0 lead.

Tropeano kept Texas hitters mostly silent early, pitching around Ian Desmond's one-out double in the first with two of his six strikeouts through the first five innings.

"It was a great effort by Nick tonight," Scioscia said. "Early on he was missing a little bit, not as pitch efficient as he was in his last outing, but somewhere around the fifth inning it looked like he got into a zone and had some clean innings in the fifth and sixth."

NOTES: Texas OF Josh Hamilton will have surgery on his ailing left knee on June 8 and will miss the rest of the season, general manager Jon Daniels confirmed. ... Rangers OF Shin-Soo Choo has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 21, with a left hamstring strain. ... OF Jared Hoying was called up from Triple-A Round Rock. To make room for Hoying on the 40-man roster, the Rangers designated OF Patrick Kivlehan for assignment. ... Texas also placed OF Drew Stubbs on the 15 day DL (left toe sprain) and recalled INF Joey Gallo from Round Rock. ... Angels OF Kole Calhoun was given the day off Monday, the first time he has been out of the lineup all season. ... Los Angeles OF Craig Gentry will remain on the DL with a "personal medical condition," the team announced.

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