Albert Pujols hit his 610th career home run to become the all-time leader among foreign-born players, and the Los Angeles Angels remained a half-game out of the second American League wild-card spot with a 10-1 win over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday at Angel Stadium.
Pujols hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning off reliever Nick Gardewine to surpass Sammy Sosa for eighth on the all-time homer list. The Angels slugger is now two behind seventh-place Jim Thome. His 19th home run of the season gave the Angels a 10-1 lead en route to their 10th win in the past 13 games.
"He passes great names every time he hits a home run," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "But I think Albert is more concerned about the win."
Rookie second baseman Kaleb Cowart also slammed a three-run homer for Los Angeles, and reliever Keynan Middleton (5-1) tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings to earn the win.
"Every day my name's is the lineup, I try and go out and do my job the best of my abilities," Cowart told Fox Sports West.
Los Angeles trails the Twins for the second AL wild-card berth. Minnesota beat the Chicago White Sox 4-1 earlier in the evening for its 13th victory in the past 17 games.
Cowart hit his three-run homer in the fifth inning to give the Angels a 6-1 lead. Kole Calhoun collected three of Los Angeles' season-high 16 hits and drove in two runs.
"We've got to go day by day, we can't just build on one win or one loss," Calhoun told Fox Sports West. "It's not a sprint. There's still a lot of games left."
Texas starter Tyson Ross (3-3) gave up three hits and a walk in a 29-pitch first inning. Pujols drove in the lone run of the inning when he doubled high off the wall in right-center field to score Mike Trout. However, Ross managed to strand the bases loaded after deflecting a comebacker to shortstop Elvis Andrus for the final out.
A two-run double by Calhoun with two outs in the fourth inning drove in Cowart and Trout to give the Angels a 3-0 lead. It also ended the night for Ross, who allowed three runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.
"There were some encouraging signs. However, with the high pitch count, it makes it very challenging to get any length," Texas manager Jeff Banister told Fox Sports Southwest. "We've got to make sure we get with him and see if we can't shorten that up."
The Rangers had nine hits in the game, but they finished 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10.
"When offense gets tough for us, we're incapable of coming up with that big hit," Banister said.
Cowart began the fourth inning with a single up the middle, and Trout singled with one out. Pujols popped up in front of the pitcher's mound, but catcher Robinson Chirinos was unable to make the catch just as the umpires signaled the infield-fly rule. Cowart and Trout moved up to second and third on the misplay, and Calhoun followed with his double.
Angels starter Ricky Nolasco blanked the Rangers until Delino DeShields surprised Trout by tagging up from third on a shallow fly to center with one out in the fifth. DeShields beat Trout's throw home to cut the deficit to 3-1.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia removed Nolasco after a walk to Adrian Beltre with two outs in the fifth, preventing the right-hander from improving to 3-0 this month.
Nolasco yielded one run on five hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out six.
"At some point you have to make a decision," Scioscia said of removing Nolasco. "That was tough one, but I definitely think it was the right one. ... He was tired."
Cowart hit a three-run homer in the fifth to give the Angels a 6-1 lead. C.J. Cron had doubled with one out and moved to third on a single by Martin Maldonado. Cowart then lifted his third home run of the season over the right field fence off Texas reliever Austin Bibens-Dirkx.
The Rangers played their second straight game without third baseman Joey Gallo, who was placed on the seven-day concussion list. Gallo, who leads the Rangers with 35 home runs, collided with reliever Matt Bush as they pursued an infield pop fly against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
NOTES: Angels LF Cameron Maybin pinch-hit for Ben Revere in the fifth inning after Revere fouled a pitch off his left knee in the fourth. ... Texas RHP Nick Gardewine made his major league debut, giving up three unearned runs, all on Albert Pujols' homer, in two-thirds of an inning. ... The Angels were 53-73 after 126 games last season. ... The Rangers recalled INF Phil Gosselin from Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday. He made his debut with Texas on Sunday, grounding out to third in his only at-bat, then was sent down Monday. He played in 122 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season, batting .277.