Power surge helps Angels keep pace in wild-card race
Kaleb Cowart and Albert Pujols hit three-run homers, and the Los Angeles Angels remained a half-game out of the second American League wild-card spot with a 10-1 win over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium.
Pujols blasted the 610th home run of his career in the seventh inning off reliever Nick Gardewine to surpass Sammy Sosa for the most home runs by a foreign-born player. His 19th home run of the season gave the Angels a 10-1 lead en route to their 10th win in the past 13 games.
Pujols now sits alone in eighth on the all-time homer list, two behind Jim Thome.
Reliever Keynan Middleton (5-1) tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings to earn the win.
Los Angeles trails the Twins for the second AL wild-card berth. Minnesota beat the Chicago White Sox 4-1 earlier in the evening for its 13th victory in the past 17 games.
Cowart hit his three-run homer in the fifth inning to give the Angels a 6-1 lead. Kole Calhoun collected three of the season-high 16 hits for Los Angeles and drove in two runs.
Texas starter Tyson Ross (3-3) gave up three hits and a walk in a 29-pitch first inning. Pujols drove in the lone run of the inning when he doubled high off the wall in right-center field to score Mike Trout. However, Ross managed to strand the bases loaded after deflecting a comebacker to shortstop Elvis Andrus for the final out.
A two-run double by Calhoun with two outs in the fourth inning drove in Cowart and Trout to give the Angels a 3-0 lead. It also ended the night for Ross, who allowed three runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Cowart began the fourth inning with a single up the middle, and Trout singled with one out. Pujols popped up in front of the pitcher's mound, but catcher Robinson Chirinos was unable to make the catch just as the umpires signaled the infield-fly rule. Cowart and Trout moved up to second and third on the misplay, and Calhoun followed with his double.
Angels starter Ricky Nolasco blanked the Rangers until Delino DeShields surprised Trout by tagging up on a shallow fly to center with one out in the fifth. DeShields beat Trout's throw home to cut the deficit to 3-1.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia removed Nolasco after a walk to Adrian Beltre with two outs in the fifth, preventing the right-hander from improving to 3-0 this month.
Nolasco yielded one run on five hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out six.
Cowart hit a three-run homer in the fifth to give the Angels a 6-1 lead. C.J. Cron had doubled with one out and moved to third on a single by Martin Maldonado. Cowart then lifted his third home run of the season over the right field fence off Texas reliever Austin Bibens-Dirkx.
The Rangers played their second straight game without third baseman Joey Gallo, who was placed on the seven-day concussion list. Gallo, who leads the Rangers with 35 home runs, collided with reliever Matt Bush as they pursued an infield pop fly against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
NOTES: Angels LF Cameron Maybin pinch-hit for Ben Revere in the fifth inning after Revere fouled a pitch off his left knee in the fourth. ... The Angels were 53-73 after 126 games last season. ... The Rangers recalled INF Phil Gosselin from Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday. He made his debut with Texas on Sunday, grounding out to third in his only at-bat, then was sent down Monday. He played in 122 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season, batting .277.