Pu­jols keeps the power turned on

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Mike DiGio­vanna mike.digio­vanna@la­times.com Twit­ter: @MikeDiGio­vanna

With eight homers in the last 11 games, he matches Man­tle with 536.

ST. PETERS­BURG, Fla. — A lengthy list of prob­lems, is­sues and con­cerns melted away for at least one night Tues­day, as the An­gels pieced to­gether what for them has been ex­tremely elu­sive this sea­son: a com­plete game.

Not the kind where the start­ing pitcher goes nine innings, though right-han­der Matt Shoe­maker played a big role in the An­gels end­ing a five-game los­ing streak with an 8-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Trop­i­cana Field.

This was a com­plete-game ef­fort, in which the An­gels paired strong start­ing pitch­ing with stout re­lief, got a bushel of clutch hits from an of­fense that built on an early lead by pres­sur­ing the Rays in al­most ev­ery in­ning, and tossed in a few good de­fen­sive plays to boot.

“You don’t ever want to streak in the wrong di­rec­tion, so it’s def­i­nitely nice to snap out of it,” said right fielder Kole Cal­houn, who had three hits and a ca­reer-high four runs bat­ted in to lead a 15-hit attack.

“It’s nice to get pro­duc­tion from top to bot­tom. I think every­body had a pretty de­cent night at the plate. It’s good for the of­fense. Hope­fully, you can take those pos­i­tives and then get rolling for a lit­tle bit, which would be huge for this club.”

Sus­tain­ing mo­men­tum has been a prob­lem, pri­mar­ily be­cause of a lineup that is get­ting al­most no pro­duc­tion from the sixth through eighth spots, which are usu­ally oc­cu­pied by Matt Joyce (.189), Chris Ian­netta (.171) and Kirk Nieuwen­huis (.100) or C.J. Cron (.192).

An­gels Gen­eral Manager Jerry Dipoto is ac­tively pur­su­ing a left­handed-hit­ting out­fielder to bol­ster the of­fense, with the lat­est spec­u­la­tion cen­ter­ing on a pos­si­ble trade of pitcher C.J. Wil­son to the Dodgers for out­fielder An­dre Ethier, though dis­cus­sions do not ap­pear to be very ad­vanced at this point.

A power surge that fu­eled a fiveg­ame win streak from May 28-June 1 eased some con­cerns about the of­fense.

Then a re­li­able ro­ta­tion that kept the An­gels com­pet­i­tive for the first two months was torched for 29 earned runs, in­clud­ing 10 homers, in 241⁄ innings of five con­sec­u­tive

3 losses, two to Tampa Bay in Ana­heim last week and three to the Yan­kees in New York over the week­end.

But af­ter that five-game rough patch in which al­most ev­ery­thing went wrong, just about ev­ery­thing went right Tues­day night.

Shoe­maker re­tired the first 11 bat­ters and gave up two runs and five hits in 61⁄ innings, strik­ing out

3 six and walk­ing one. He im­proved to 4-4 with a 4.86 earned-run av­er­age on the sea­son and 1-0 with a 1.45 ERA in his last three starts.

The top four hit­ters in the lineup — Erick Ay­bar, Mike Trout, Al­bert Pu­jols and Cal­houn — com­bined to go 11 for 20 with eight runs and five RBIs. The An­gels went seven for 18 with run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion af­ter go­ing six for 39 in those sit­u­a­tions in the pre­vi­ous five games.

There was also an­other mile­stone homer for Pu­jols, who tied Mickey Man­tle for 16th on base­ball’s all-time list with a solo shot to right in the fifth. Pu­jols, who also dou­bled and scored in the third and sin­gled and scored in a three­run eighth, has eight homers in the last 11 games and 16 on the sea­son.

“It’s pretty spe­cial,” Pu­jols said. “Mickey is a leg­end. What he did in this game, no­body is go­ing to for­get that. But my goal is to help this club win, and I’m glad I was able to do that tonight.

“I’ll have plenty of time at the end of my ca­reer to look back and see what I’ve done in this game, but right now, my fo­cus, day in and day out, for the next six years is to do what­ever I can ev­ery day to help the team win.”

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