An­gels un­leash more power

Pu­jols hits two home runs, and Trout and Freese each hit one to help sink Rays.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Mike DiGio­vanna

AN­GELS 7, TAMPA BAY 3

The An­gels were play­ing their 18th game in a gru­el­ing stretch of 20 games in 20 days, so Manager Mike Scios­cia eased back on the throt­tle a bit Mon­day night, can­cel­ing the tra­di­tional on-field bat­ting prac­tice to get his play­ers off their feet and give them a men­tal break af­ter a four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers.

That hardly dis­rupted the prepa­ra­tion or mo­men­tum of the An­gels, who kept the pedal to the metal in a 7-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays that ex­tended their win­ning streak to five games, im­proved them to 28-24 and kept them four games be­hind the first­place Hous­ton Astros in the Amer­i­can League West.

The An­gels were 23-24 be­fore Detroit came to town, and they seemed to turn a cor­ner against the Tigers, outscor­ing them, 26-10, and hold­ing a lead for all but three innings of the se­ries. But it wasn’t just the lop­sided num­bers on the score­board that im­pressed Scios­cia about his play­ers.

“They were gritty. I liked the way they got af­ter it in ev­ery as­pect of the game, whether it was de­fense, pitch­ing, clutch hit­ting,

sit­u­a­tional hit­ting, get­ting bunts down, steal­ing bases,” Scios­cia said. “What­ever we needed to do in a sit­u­a­tion, we were able to do, and that’s what we need to do to have long-term suc­cess.”

The op­po­nent changed Mon­day night, but the per­for­mance re­mained the same, the An­gels throw­ing at the Rays about as com­plete a game as they’ve played this sea­son.

Al­bert Pu­jols con­tin­ued his power surge with a home run to left field in the fifth in­ning and a tworun shot to left in the eighth, giv­ing the slug­ger five home runs in five games, 13 this sea­son and his 49th multi-home run game.

And to think, Tampa Bay ac­tu­ally walked Mike Trout in­ten­tion­ally with run­ners on sec­ond base and third base in the sixth to face Pu­jols, who f lied to cen­ter field to end that in­ning.

The rea­son the Rays didn’t want to mess with Trout? The An­gels cen­ter fielder crushed a game- break­ing three-run home run to left-cen­ter field in the third in­ning, giv­ing him 13 home runs this sea­son and a team-lead­ing 30 runs bat­ted in.

“Ei­ther way, it’s a good sit­u­a­tion for us,” Scios­cia said. “Both of those guys are elite play­ers, and if you have to pick your poi­son, it just makes us bet­ter. . . . Al­bert is a spe­cial player, and when he finds it, he usu­ally keeps it for long pe­ri­ods of time.”

David Freese hit a home run in the sec­ond in­ning, giv­ing the An­gels 14 home runs in six games and a sense that their of­fense has fi­nally emerged from a lengthy sea­son-open­ing funk.

“The homers are com­ing be­cause they’re due,” Scios­cia said. “We have guys who we know can swing the bat and hit the ball out of the park, and they’re get­ting pitches and hit­ting them well. That’s some­thing we were miss­ing for the first six weeks of the sea­son, for sure.”

Gar­rett Richards re­cov­ered from a shaky third and fourth innings, in which he gave up three runs and five hits, all com­ing with two outs, to de­liver a six-in­ning, three-run, six-hit ef­fort that im­proved the right-han­der to 5-3.

Richards was backed by a solid de­fense that fea­tured sev­eral strong plays by short­stop Erick Ay­bar and Freese, the An­gels third base­man, and left-han­der Jose Al­varez and right-han­ders Fer­nando Salas, Joe Smith and Cam Be­drosian com­bined for three innings of hit­less re­lief.

“We’re see­ing a lot of good things hap­pen­ing on the field,” Scios­cia said. “This is the way we need to play, for sure. You’re not al­ways go­ing to get four or five homers a game, but we need our lineup to get deeper to where we’re pres­sur­ing teams on an in­ning by in­ning ba­sis. When that hap­pens, I think we’re go­ing to put up runs more con­sis­tently.”

Alex Gal­lardo As­so­ci­ated Press

AL­BERT PU­JOLS scores af­ter hit­ting a home run in the f ifth in­ning, his f irst of two.

Stephen Dunn Getty Images

MIKE TROUT drives in Johnny Gi­avotella, left, and Erick Ay­bar (2) with a three-run home run.

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