ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols homered for the 20th time this season, Héctor Santiago continually navigated out of trouble and Joe Smith recorded four big outs, sending the Angels to a 5-2 win over the Red Sox on Saturday night at Angel Stadium.Pujols turned on a first-pitch cutter from Drew Pomeranz
ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols homered for the 20th time this season, Héctor Santiago continually navigated out of trouble and Joe Smith recorded four big outs, sending the Angels to a 5-2 win over the Red Sox on Saturday night at Angel Stadium.
Pujols turned on a first-pitch cutter from Drew Pomeranz in the third inning and sent it to left-center field a projected 434 feet, according to Statcast™, giving the Angels a 3-2 lead. Johnny Giavotella added an RBI single in the fourth and Jett Bandy hit a run-scoring double in the sixth, ultimately giving the Angels their 14th win in the last 21 games.
"We had a rough first half, all of us together as a group," Smith said. "But we've been playing really good baseball since the All-Star break. It's really fun around here, and we're just trying to keep doing it."
Mookie Betts led off the game with a home run and Hanley Ramirez added an RBI single with one out in the first, but Santiago escaped a bases-loaded jam without any further damage, and the Red Sox didn't score again.
"It happens in baseball," said Betts. "They capitalized on some chances and we didn't. We just have to go and play tomorrow and see how things shake out."
It was the seventh loss in the last nine games for the Red Sox, who trail the Blue Jays by two games in the American League East.
In his third start with the Red Sox, Pomeranz gave up six hits and five runs over 5 1/3 innings.
Santiago allowed 10 baserunners and threw more than 100 pitches in the first four innings, but somehow managed to complete five innings of two-run ball. Smith then got the Angels into the eighth with a three-run lead by retiring all four batters he faced, giving him 7 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings and lowering his ERA to 3.82.
"We're fortunate tonight," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "You can't give that club as many baserunners as we did."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Distinguished company: Pujols' third-inning homer made him one of just four players to amass 20 or more home runs in 15 of his first 16 seasons, along with Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Frank Robinson. It was also Pujols' 1,190th extra-base hit, tying another Hall of Famer, Lou Gehrig, for ninth on the all-time list. With three more home runs, Pujols, sitting on 580, will tie his good friend, Mark McGwire, for 10th.
"When it's all said and done, year after year, Albert is one of the most productive hitters to ever play the game," Scioscia said. "He keeps showing it." More >
Mookie's leadoff power: Betts' leadoff homer was his sixth this season and the eighth of his young career. Nomar Garciaparra (seven leadoff homers in 1997) is the only Red Sox player since 1913 to have more leadoff homers than Betts, who deposited the third pitch of the game by Santiago over the Angels' bullpen in left. The right fielder has 21 home runs, already three more than he hit last year in his first full season.
"I wasn't trying to ambush," said Betts. "Just swing at good pitches, that's my motto. I'm just trying to put a good swing on a good pitch, and fortunately I got one and it went out."
Finding a way: Santiago somehow managed to move to 6-0 in July, despite requiring 119 pitches to finish five innings. The Angels' erratic left-hander issued six walks and recorded the second out of the fourth with his 100th pitch, but he breezed through the fifth and held the Red Sox to only two runs. He became only the second starter this year to throw 115-plus pitches in five innings while allowing two runs or fewer, along with the Red Sox's Joe Kelly.
"Somehow I just find a way to make the pitch at the right time," said Santiago, who ranks third in the Majors in left-on-base percentage this season. "I'm just trying to figure out how to do that before I get in that situation with guys on. That's the key. Something inside me clicks and it's like, 'Hey, you're not scoring.' Literally. I said that three times to them. There were guys on second and third, and I'm like, 'You're staying right there.' That's the mindset I get with guys on base." More >
Brentz, Red Sox miss opportunities: With Santiago obviously lacking command, Bryce Brentz had two chances to break the game open for the Red Sox. He came to the plate in the first and third innings with the bases loaded and two outs and struck out both times. Boston had two on with one out in the fourth, and didn't score. And in the sixth, with two on and two outs, Xander Bogaerts hit a bullet to third, but Yunel Escobar made a nice play on it to end the inning. Boston left 11 runners on base.
"Missed opportunities," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "That's the story of this one. We did a fantastic job of, once again, putting guys on, but to cash in and complete the inning, that base hit has been elusive [of late]." More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Mike Trout reached 70 walks for the fourth time in his career in the seventh inning. He is one of only eight players to reach that total at least four times before their age-25 season, along with Mickey Mantle, Mel Ott, Eddie Mathews, Eddie Yost, Ted Williams, Harlond Clift, Jimmie Foxx and Donie Bush.
Cam Bedrosian lowered his ERA to 0.92 by striking out the side in the eighth inning. The Angels' 24-year-old right-hander has gone 24 consecutive appearances without allowing a run, passing Smith for the fourth-longest streak in club history. He has 48 strikeouts in 39 innings in 2016, after combining to post a 5.81 ERA in 51 games from 2014-15.
Escobar's pick on Bogaerts' grounder helped Smith preserve the Angels' 4-2 lead in the sixth. Smith, who also pitched a perfect seventh inning, had entered the game with runners on first and second and two outs. Both Smith and Escobar, along with Santiago, are candidates to be traded before Monday's 1 p.m. PT non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"Yeah, you wonder it," Smith said of whether this might be his last game for the Angels. "Anybody would. Any day you walk in there it might be your last."
Red Sox: Knuckleballer Steven Wright, who is coming off his toughest start of the season, will try to get back on track when the Red Sox close out this four-game series against the Angels with a 3:35 p.m. ET contest on Sunday at Angel Stadium. In his last six starts, Wright is 4-1 despite a 6.29 ERA.
Angels:Tyler Skaggs makes his second start of the season, on the two-year anniversary of a fateful game. Skaggs tore his ulnar collateral ligament in Baltimore on July 31, 2014, requiring Tommy John surgery, but the lefty returned from a long recovery to throw seven scoreless innings against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday.
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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.
Alden Gonzalez has covered the Angels for MLB.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.