Pujols hits slam, drives in 5 runs to rally Angels past Athletics
Albert Pujols doesn't like talking much about his swing when he's struggling. The Angels' slugger is even more reticent to discuss it when things are going well.
Even after hitting his 12th home run this month -- a grand slam that highlighted an eight-run seventh inning -- Pujols was reluctant to talk about his most recent power surge.
"I don't want to talk about that, I'm just seeing the ball good and putting my best swing," Pujols said after driving in five runs to help the Angels come from behind for a 12-7 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Friday night. "Same thing I've been doing all year long. I'm just getting better breaks, I guess."
Pujols hit his 20th home run of the season on a 1-1 pitch from reliever Edward Mujica (2-2), who was activated from the disabled list before the game. It was the 540th career home run for the Angels' slugger and his 13th grand slam.
The Angels, who trailed by five runs heading into the seventh, scored 10 runs over the final three innings while taking advantage of Oakland's sloppy defense. The A's committed three of their four errors in the seventh when Los Angeles sent 12 men to the plate.
"It's a great come-from-behind win," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "These guys didn't quit. Good at-bats the whole night and obviously big hits from Albert. Hopefully a win like this gives some guys, especially some guys that are struggling, a little confidence moving forward."
Johnny Giavotella drove in three runs for Los Angeles, which has won five of the last six games between the clubs.
Ben Zobrist and Stephen Vogt homered for the A's, who have lost two straight.
Fernando Salas (1-1) retired one batter for the win, the Angels' first in four games this season in which Oakland ace Sonny Gray has started.
Los Angeles trailed 7-2 before breaking out against Gray and three relievers in the seventh.
Gray walked the first two batters in the inning then gave up an RBI-single to Matt Joyce. Two batters after pinch-hitter Daniel Robertson drew a bases-loaded walk off reliever Drew Pomeranz, Mike Trout hit a sacrifice fly to left that deflected off Zobrist's glove, allowing Joyce to score without a throw.
Pujols followed with his 12th home run in the last 21 games. He had an RBI-double in the ninth.
"I knew I had a pretty good chance to go (out), especially down the line," Pujols said. "I've hit a couple of balls here that way. I was just praying to stay fair."
Giavotella, who had an RBI double in the second and a sacrifice fly in the fourth, added an RBI single to make it 10-7.
The A's committed three of their four errors in the inning, raising their total this season to 69, the most in the majors.
"We weren't very good defensively today," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "We have been better recently, but you're not going to win many games when you're making four errors."
Trevor Gott, Joe Smith and Cesar Ramos pitched one inning apiece to complete the win for Los Angeles.
Gray, who took a majors-low 1.60 ERA into the game, was in line for his ninth win until the Angels' outburst. He allowed six runs and five hits in six-plus innings while matching his career-low with two strikeouts. The Oakland ace also dodged a potential serious injury in the fourth when he speared Joyce's two-out line drive just as the ball neared his head.
Zobrist hit a three-run home run in the first inning off Angels starter Matt Shoemaker who allowed five runs and eight hits with two strikeouts in four-plus innings.
Athletics: 1B Ike Davis was activated from the DL before the game. Davis started and batted sixth. He went 1 for 4. ... To make room on the roster, RHP Arnold Leon was optioned to Triple-A Nashville and INF Andy Parrino was designated for assignment.
Angels: RHP Jared Weaver (4-7) pitches the middle game of the series Saturday looking to end a three-start losing streak. Weaver has 13 career wins against Oakland.
Athletics: RHP Jesse Hahn (4-5) is winless in six starts against teams from the AL West this season.