Pujols' two-run HR helps Angels beat Diamondbacks
Angels manager Mike Scioscia rearranged his batting order, and the results weren't exactly overwhelming -- except for a game-changing home run by the new cleanup hitter.
Albert Pujols drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in the sixth inning against Jeremy Hellickson with his 539th career homer, David Freese also hit a two-run shot and Garrett Richards pitched seven innings of four-hit ball to help Los Angeles beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-1 on Tuesday night.
Scioscia wanted a different look offensively after watching his team total just five runs over the previous three games. Mike Trout and Pujols were moved back to third and fourth, respectively, while Kole Calhoun replaced Trout in the second spot after batting cleanup in 24 of the previous 27 games and hitting .235 with three homers and 14 RBIs during that stretch.
"You don't change your approach because of where you're hitting in the lineup," said Pujols, who started in the cleanup spot for the 240th time in his career and first time since May 21, 2010, with the St. Louis Cardinals.
"It doesn't matter if you hit eighth, leadoff ... you've still got to go out there and play. I wish you guys flip that page and stay focused on the things we have to concentrate on, and that's winning -- not about where I hit, or Trout hitting third. I mean, if that's your wish, you got it tonight."
Pujols was 1 for 3, while Trout went 1 for 3 and Calhoun 0 for 4.
"The lineup wasn't a factor tonight, because we didn't get much going," Scioscia said. "I don't think we had a leadoff runner on for most of the night and that's a tough way to go. So we'll continue to try to try to move forward and find solutions and see if we can apply more pressure on teams."
The Angels managed only three hits through the first five innings -- two-out singles by Trout, Carlos Perez and Kyle Kubitza in the first, second and fifth. But Hellickson (4-4) walked Trout with two out in the sixth after getting ahead of him 1-2, and Pujols drove a 2-1 pitch to left-center for his 19th homer of the season and 11th in 18 games.
"It's really tough, but we stuck to our game plan all night," Arizona catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "The plan was not to let guys on base in front of those two guys so that they could do a lot of damage. Trout's a great hitter and he had a great at-bat there. You never want two-out walks, but I'm not upset with a two-out walk to a guy like Trout."
Hellickson allowed two runs and four hits in six innings, striking out six and walking one for Arizona. The right-hander, who came in with a 5.29 ERA, hasn't pitched seven full innings in any of last 22 starts since Aug. 6, 2014.
"It's very frustrating, to say the least," said Hellickson, who retired the first two batters in every inning he pitched. "The way Richards was throwing, I've got to keep the ball in the yard right there. I'm just really mad at myself right now.
"I wanted to throw a fastball down and away to Pujols, but I just left it up a little too much," Hellickson added.
Richards (7-4) yielded an unearned run and three walks, struck out four and retired his final 11 batters after a shaky start as the Angels snapped Arizona's four-game winning streak.
The right-hander, coming off a 6-2 road victory against Tampa Bay in which he allowed two runs over seven innings, has won back-to-back starts for the first time since April 24-30 against Texas and Oakland.
Freese capped the scoring in the eighth against Randall Delgado with his 10th homer after a two-out walk to Pujols. Huston Street pitched a perfect ninth for his 20th save in 22 attempts.
Thanks in part to a fielding error by rookie Taylor Featherston in his fourth start at second base in the big leagues, Richards found himself in a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the first after just nine pitches. He got a visit from pitching coach Mike Butcher before striking out Yasmany Tomas and retiring Jake Lamb on a grounder.
Butcher went to the mound again in the second after Chris Owings led off with a single and advanced to third on a pair of passed balls by Perez with one out and Nick Ahmed at the plate -- the second one coming on ball four to the D-backs' No. 9 hitter. A.J. Pollock drove in Owings with a sacrifice fly.
Diamondbacks: RHP Chase Anderson (2-1) will make his 13th start of the season as the scene shifts to Phoenix for the final two games of this four-game showdown. He is 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA in eight starts since losing 5-4 to Colorado on April 27 at Chase Field. Last Friday at San Francisco, Anderson pitched seven innings of one-hit ball in a 1-0 victory.
Angels: LHP Hector Santiago (4-3) is coming off his third straight no-decision since beating Detroit 2-0 with 7 1/3 innings of three-hit ball at home.