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Pujols hits clutch HR; Richards K's 11 in win

Halos use three homers, including Trout's 8th, to end four-game skid
MLB.com @mi_guardado

ANAHEIM -- It had been a full week since the Angels had last held a lead when Albert Pujols stepped up to the plate to face left-hander Derek Holland in the sixth inning. With one swing of the bat, Pujols brought that ignominious streak to an end, launching a go-ahead, two-run home run that lifted the Angels to a 4-3 win over the Giants and snapped their four-game skid on Saturday night at Angel Stadium.

With the game tied, 2-2, Justin Upton set up Pujols' decisive homer by drawing a one-out walk off Holland. Pujols then belted an 0-1 sinker to the right-field bleachers for his 2,992nd career hit, leaving him eight shy of 3,000. It marked the Angels' first lead in 42 innings, a stretch that dated to last Saturday's 5-3 win over the Royals in Kansas City.

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ANAHEIM -- It had been a full week since the Angels had last held a lead when Albert Pujols stepped up to the plate to face left-hander Derek Holland in the sixth inning. With one swing of the bat, Pujols brought that ignominious streak to an end, launching a go-ahead, two-run home run that lifted the Angels to a 4-3 win over the Giants and snapped their four-game skid on Saturday night at Angel Stadium.

With the game tied, 2-2, Justin Upton set up Pujols' decisive homer by drawing a one-out walk off Holland. Pujols then belted an 0-1 sinker to the right-field bleachers for his 2,992nd career hit, leaving him eight shy of 3,000. It marked the Angels' first lead in 42 innings, a stretch that dated to last Saturday's 5-3 win over the Royals in Kansas City.

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"It's a huge hit at the time," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He drove it the other way, which is a great sign for Albert. We haven't scored many runs, haven't had many leads this week. There's no doubt it gave us a big lift."

The Angels had been outscored 35-4 and batted just .151 (19-for-126) in the first four games of their homestand against the Red Sox and Giants, but they put those woes behind them with Saturday's come-from-behind win.

"I don't think the 30 guys that we have in here get concerned about it," said Pujols, who collected his fourth home run of the season and the 618th of his career. "This is just the first month of the season. I think we have a pretty good ballclub here. We believe in ourselves. We know what we have."

Video: SF@LAA: Pujols talks about the Halos' win over Giants

Mike Trout and Jefry Marte also homered to back a strong start from right-hander Garrett Richards, who struck out a career-high-matching 11 over six innings to improve to 3-0 this season. Richards allowed two runs on five hits while walking one in the 104-pitch effort.

"We worked on some mechanical issues that I had going on early on and just kind of got me back to doing my simple delivery that allows me to throw more strikes and get ahead of guys," Richards said. "You're always working, so this is a good one to build off of, but I'm glad that we got a [win] tonight."

Video: SF@LAA: Richards fans Longoria, strikes out the side

Brandon Belt inflicted the only damage against Richards, putting the Giants on the board with a two-run home run in the second. Richards began the inning by striking out Pablo Sandoval swinging on a slider, but the ball got away from catcher Rene Rivera, allowing Sandoval to reach on a wild pitch.

Belt followed by driving a 96 mph fastball from Richards to deep center field. Trout jumped at the wall and nearly robbed Belt of a homer, but the ball hit off the heel of his glove and went over the home-run boundary, giving the Giants a 2-0 lead.

"I hit the wall, and when I hit the wall, my glove moved," Trout said. "I think if I'm a couple steps toward right field, I make that catch."

Marte's first home run of the season, a solo shot off Holland in the second, brought the Angels within one, and Trout tied it with another solo homer in the third. Trout now has eight home runs this season, tied with the Nationals' Bryce Harper for the most in the Majors.

Video: SF@LAA: Marte lifts a solo home run to left-center

Richards faced little trouble the rest of the way and ended his outing by striking out the side in the sixth. Nine of his 11 strikeouts against the Giants came via his slider.

"My fastball-slider is kind of my combo," Richards said. "Didn't throw too many curveballs tonight, but I had those two working and I had the sinker working. Sinker kind of opened up a lot of things outside to righties and away to lefties for me tonight. Just kind of trying to be in the zone more often. Limit the walks and just go right at guys."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Giants threatened in the eighth after Andrew McCutchen drew a two-out walk and scored on Sandoval's RBI double off reliever Blake Wood to trim the Angels' lead to 4-3. Wood intentionally walked Belt before Scioscia brought in Keynan Middleton to face Evan Longoria with runners on first and second and two outs. Middleton escaped the jam by blowing a 97 mph fastball past Longoria for the final out of the inning.

Video: SF@LAA: Middleton strikes out Longoria, strands two

"He came in in a tough situation," Scioscia said. "Evan Longoria is as tough as they come, but he made some good pitches to him and got out of it."

Middleton came back out for the ninth and yielded a leadoff single to Mac Williamson, but he struck out Brandon Crawford and Nick Hundley and coaxed a groundout from Joe Panik to convert a four-out save and seal the Angels' win.

SOUND SMART
Richards now owns a 1.52 ERA in Interleague play, the second-lowest mark all time among pitchers with at least 80 innings.

UP NEXT
Angels pitching prospect Jaime Barria will oppose Giants veteran Johnny Cueto in Sunday's series finale at 1:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. Barria picked up a win in his MLB debut against the Rangers on April 11 after allowing one run over five innings.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels