Phils can't find big hits, fall to Halos in opener
By Maria Guardado and Todd Zolecki
ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols continued to put his extended slump in the rearview mirror on Tuesday night, launching a three-run home run and knocking in five runs to halt the Phillies' five-game win streak and power the Angels to a 7-1 series-opening win at Angel Stadium.
Pujols gave the Angels their first lead of the night with a two-run double in the fifth and then added some cushion in the seventh with his 17th home run of the season, a three-run blast off Phillies reliever Mark Leiter that put the Halos ahead, 5-1. Pujols now has three home runs and nine RBIs in his last two games after snapping an 0-for-24 drought on Sunday.
"He had a tough beginning of that road trip," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He hit some balls hard, and not much to show for it, but this is what Albert can do. When he gets locked in, he's not missing pitches. He can put a team on his shoulders and carry them."
With the win, the Angels (51-55) pulled within four games of the Royals for the second American League Wild Card spot. The Halos gained some ground following Kansas City's 7-2 loss to the Orioles on Tuesday.
Angels right-hander Ricky Nolasco yielded just one run on six hits over six innings, delivering his fifth quality start in his last seven games. Tommy Joseph produced the Phillies' lone run of the night with an RBI single in the first.
"It was one of those days where it was a grind," Nolasco said. "Lot of working out of the stretch. Splitty kind of saved me tonight, kind of the only good pitch going for me tonight. Threw a ton of them and it worked out."
Right-hander Aaron Nola was charged with the tough-luck loss despite pitching six strong innings for the Phillies. The 24-year-old surrendered two runs on eight hits while walking one and striking out three.
"I got myself in jams with two outs and two strikes," Nola said. "They capitalized on them."
Phillies reliever Drew Anderson, who was recalled from Double-A Reading ahead of Tuesday's game, made his Major League debut in the eighth and gave up two runs (one earned), allowing the Angels to extend their lead to 7-1. Anderson's stint with the Phillies was short-lived, as he was optioned shortly thereafter.
"It was a rush," Anderson said. "It was fun. I mean, I'm glad I got in and struck out Mike Trout."
Angels third baseman Yunel Escobar departed the game after seven innings with tightness in his upper back. He is day to day, according to Scioscia.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Nolasco escapes trouble: After Pujols gave the Angels a 2-1 lead, the Phillies mounted a scoring opportunity against Nolasco in the sixth. Joseph drew a leadoff walk, and Odubel Herrera reached on a bunt single to put runners on first and second with no outs. Still, Nolasco worked out of the jam by retiring Maikel Franco and Nick Williams on flyouts and striking out Hyun Soo Kim to end the inning, preserving the Angels' slim lead.
"Big out with Kim with a couple guys on," Scioscia said. "He scratched and clawed and got through six tonight without his best stuff."
Phillies threaten again: The Phillies also had a chance to take advantage of a pair of defensive miscues by the Angels after putting a pair of baserunners on to start the seventh. Keynan Middleton relieved Nolasco and induced a fly ball to left field from Andrew Knapp to start the inning, but Ben Revere misplayed it, allowing it to sail over his head for a leadoff double. Cesar Hernandez followed by hitting a grounder to Andrelton Simmons, who did a pump fake to hold Knapp at second before firing to first, which gave Hernandez enough time to beat out his throw. Still, Middleton escaped the jam by coaxing a lineout from Freddy Galvis and striking out Aaron Altherr and Joseph, killing the Phillies' rally.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With 608 career home runs, Pujols is one shy of matching fellow Dominican Sammy Sosa for eighth on the all-time list and first by a foreign-born player.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the third, Escobar tried to score from second base on Pujols' two-out single to left field, but he was thrown out at the plate by Williams, ending the inning and keeping the Phillies' 1-0 lead intact. The Angels challenged the call, but it was upheld following a lengthy replay review.
Hernandez was initially called out at first after hitting a grounder to Simmons in the seventh, but the Phillies issued a challenge after replay showed that Hernandez had appeared to beat out Simmons' throw. The call was overturned, and Hernandez was credited with an infield single.
WHAT'S NEXT Phillies: Right-hander Jake Thompson (1-0, 4.50 ERA) makes his second start this season in the second game of a three-game series at 10:07 p.m. ET Wednesday against the Angels at Angel Stadium. Thompson replaced Jeremy Hellickson Friday night against the Braves, throwing five scoreless innings. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Thompson earned a longer look as a result.
Angels: Right-hander JC Ramirez (9-9, 4.29 ERA) will take the mound on Wednesday as the Angels play the second game of their three-game series against the Phillies at 7:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. Ramirez, a former Phillie, has made four career relief appearances against his old club, allowing one run over 3 1/3 innings.