Forever your hurl: Former 'Idol' judge, pop star tosses first pitch
Not even a former 'American Idol' judge and pop star could make the taxed Tampa Bay bullpen sing . . . or save a few players from elimination.
In a game that began with Paula Abdul showing off her dance moves and then throwing out the first pitch as the goodwill ambassador for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Albert Pujols hit his 537th home run Thursday night to move ahead of Mickey Mantle into 16th place on the all-time list and complete the scoring for the Angels in a 6-2 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field.
The Rays bullpen allowed five runs and 10 hits, including Pujols' shot, over the final four innings in a rare meltdown.
"Brought our guys in and it just didn't work out tonight," Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. "We'll still take those chances anytime we get them with our bullpen. We have a ton of confidence in them."
Postgame, the Rays made a series of moves to reinforce their much-used bullpen. Tampa Bay recalled pitchers C.J. Riefenhauser, Enny Romero and Matt Andriese from Triple-A Durham. Reliever Andrew Bellatti (right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list, right-hander Preston Guilmet was optioned to Durham, and backup catcher Bobby Wilson was designated for assignment.
Tampa Bay will play for the time being with one catcher, Rene Rivera. Infielder Jake Elmore will serve as the backup.
Cash said the moves were made due to the "shape of our pitching."
Pujols' 17th home run of the season, which came in the ninth inning off Guilmet, was his 1,122nd extra-base hit, tying Manny Ramirez for 14th place in that category. The 35-year-old first baseman has 1,635 RBI, one short of Ernie Banks who is 29th on the all-time list.
"It's a great accomplishment," Pujols said. "At the same time, I'm just glad I was able to do something to help my ball club win. To me that's more important than anything else."
Mike Trout drove in two runs with his 17th home run and a double.
Trout, who had three straight hits, hit his sixth homer in 11 games off Rays starter Alex Colome for the Angels' first run. Trout's two-out double off Brad Boxberger drove in another run in the seventh after rookie Kyle Kubitza's single had given Los Angeles its first lead of the game, 3-2.
Pujols' home run was his second of the series and ninth in 13 games.
Garrett Richards (6-4) pitched seven innings for the Angels, giving up two runs and four hits while striking out seven.
Former Angel Kevin Jepsen (1-4) took the loss after giving up all three runs in the decisive seventh.
Steven Souza Jr.'s 12th home run gave the Rays a 2-0 lead in the second after Richards walked Logan Forsythe. That score stood until Trout's homer in the sixth.
Colome gave up one run and four hits while striking out four in 5 1/3 innings. The Angels won for only the second time in eight games.
Joey Butler had two of the Rays' five hits.
Tampa Bay has scored two or fewer runs in 26 games this season.
Angels: 1B C.J. Cron's left hand was sore after being struck by a pitch Wednesday night. He grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.
Rays: LHP Drew Smyly began sock tossing Thursday, the first step in his return from a torn labrum. Smyly is not eligible to come off the DL until July 5 and might miss the rest of the season.
Angels: LHP Hector Santiago (4-3) will face Oakland in the opener of a five-game homestand Friday night.
Rays: Andriese will replace RHP Jake Odorizzi, who is on the DL with strained left oblique, to start Friday night against the Chicago White Sox.