BALTIMORE -- The postgame storyline seemed set: The Angels outslug the Orioles for a needed win over a fellow American League Wild Card contender behind five home runs, including a historic fastball shot from Jose Pujols. Then manager Mike Scioscia threw a curve with a change in his bullpen order.
Baltimore's bats altered the outcome with a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth to hand the Angels a 9-7 loss. But there's no erasing the latest Pujols milestone.
The slugger's first-inning home run, the 609th of his career, moved him into a tie with Sammy Sosa for eighth on MLB's all-time list.
• Fan earned meeting with Pujols by reeling in his record-tying homer
Pujols, 37, lined a pitch from Orioles starter Jeremy Hellickson just over the left-field wall for a two-run homer. It wasn't the most prodigious blast of his 17-year career, but it was notable. Pujols and Sosa are also co-leaders for the most homers by a foreign-born player.
:: 600-HOME RUN CLUB ::
"Every time [Albert] hits them, he's catching somebody and putting himself in a sentence with somebody," Scioscia said. "Albert just keeps swinging."
Even though Pujols entered the game batting .229, the designated hitter still elicits fear in his opponent, especially with his power. There are 609 examples.
With Ben Revere on second base following a leadoff double, Hellickson jumped ahead of Pujols with two strikes before the count went full. The right-hander reared back for his seventh pitch in the at-bat. The knuckle-curve didn't fool Pujols.
The Dominican Republic native wasn't in the mood after the game to talk about his latest milestone, even though he tied his fellow countryman.
"It's great, but the record doesn't mean anything. We had a tough loss today," said Pujols after the Angels lost for only the second time in nine games. "Now we're second place in the Wild Card, chasing first place. We've played pretty well. That's more important to me, a tough loss tonight, than tying Sammy Sosa right now."
The loss dropped Los Angeles (62-60) into a percentage tie with Minnesota (61-59) for the second Wild Card slot, 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees. Six teams are within three games.
Earlier this season Pujols became the sixth player in Major League history with at least 600 home runs and 1,700 runs scored. The others in that exclusive club: Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Babe Ruth.
Pujols has 18 home runs this season. He's had at least 28 in 15 of his 16 previous seasons.
Those are some jaw-dropping stats. On the right day, Pujols will surely engage in discussion over what's happened and what's to come.