TEMPE, Ariz. — Apparently Albert Pujols doesn’t need his knee to hit.
The Angels have gone slow this spring with their first baseman, who underwent offseason surgery on his right knee. But his swing looked to be in midseason form Saturday when Pujols crushed a majestic solo home run off Colorado’s Juan Nicasio in the third inning of the Angels’ 8-6 loss to the Rockies before a crowd of 9,288 at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
Pujols, who has yet to play the field this spring, was making just his second start of the Cactus League season, both as the designated hitter.
The Rockies took an early 3-0 lead, scoring three times on five hits against Angels starter Jason Vargas in the second. But the Angels came right back in their half of the inning to score three runs of their own, the first two coming on Peter Bourjos’ triple to the wall in left-center.
Of Bourjos’ first seven hits this spring, three have been triples.
Bourjos then scored the tying run on Chris Iannetta’s single.
An inning later, Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki put the Rockies back in front only to have Pujols respond with his homer, which tied the game at four.
After the Rockies went back in front in the seventh on a run-scoring single from Corey Dickerson, the Angels responded with a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning from Kole Calhoun for their first lead of the day.
The bullpen couldn’t hold it, though, with Ryan Brasier giving up hits to the first three hitters he faced in the ninth to tie the game again. Then, after a wild pitch moved two runners into scoring position, the Rockies plated them both on a sacrifice fly from Dickerson and a single from Ryan Wheeler.
Pujols struck out on a check swing and hit into a double play in his other two at-bats Saturday.