ANAHEIM, California: The batting average, on-base and slugging percentages are nowhere near what he posted during his 11-year career in St. Louis, but Albert Pujols left no doubt Tuesday night (Wednesday in Manila) that he is still capable of driving the ball out of the park.
Pujols crushed a pair of three-run home runs in an 8-6 victory over the Texas Rangers in Angel Stadium, giving the 36-year-old slugger two multi-homer games in three days and 54 in his career, tying him with Frank Robinson and Manny Ramirez for 10th all-time.
Pujols’ 18th and 19th homers of the season gave him 579 for his career, four shy of Mark McGwire for 10th place, and pushed the Angels to their fifth straight win and ninth victory in 11 games.
The Angels were 191/2 games behind Texas in the American League West at the beginning of July, but the deficit is down to 121/2.
Pujols and the Angels got a scare in the seventh when an up-and-in 92-mph fastball from Rangers reliever Tony Barnette hit both the brim of Pujols’ helmet and his face.
Pujols went down to one knee while Barnette rushed in to apologize, but Pujols got up and took first base, where he smiled as he was checked by a trainer.
The Pujols homers, which both came with Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout aboard, erased deficits in the fourth and fifth innings and gave him 71 runs batted in on the season, putting him on a pace for 122.
One night after erasing a four-run deficit in a 9-5 win, the Angels were down, 3-0, in the fourth inning Tuesday.
Texas took advantage of Angels third baseman Yunel Escobar’s two-out error to score two unearned runs and take a 5-4 lead in the fifth, but Calhoun tripled off the center-field wall with one out in the bottom of the fifth, Trout walked and stole second and Pujols drove his second homer to left-center for a 7-5 lead.
Angels starter Tim Lincecum escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the first inning, striking out Mitch Moreland and Ryan Rua with breaking balls, and a first-and-third, no-out jam in the third.
Adrian Beltre lined to short for the first out, and Lincecum struck out Moreland looking at a fastball at the top of the strike zone and Rua on a slider.
But Lincecum could not solve Rangers catcher and No. 9 hitter Robinson Chirinos, who crushed a solo homer to left in the second and lined a two-run shot to left in the fourth.
Ian Desmond had three hits, including a solo homer in the sixth, and Jett Bandy hit a solo homer in the bottom of the sixth for an 8-6 lead.
Joe Smith, Cam Bedrosian and Huston Street pitched scoreless relief innings, Street ending the team’s 28-game streak without a save dating back to June 14.
It was the second-longest stretch without a save in club history. The Angels went 48 games without a save from Aug. 6-Sept. 27, 1972, but went 26-22 with 25 of the wins coming in complete games.