Pujols Hits First HR for Angels in 4-3 Win

Pujols connected in the fifth inning for his first AL homer and the 446th overall.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Albert Pujols' two-run home run was his first of the season and fueled an Angels win.

    Albert Pujols finally hit a home run for the Los Angeles Angels, ending the longest power drought of his career Sunday in a 4-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

    Pujols connected in the fifth inning for his first AL homer and the 446th overall.

    The three-time NL MVP had gone 33 games and 139 at-bats dating to last year without a home run in the regular season. He had a three-homer game for the champion St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series and hit seven home runs in spring training.

    Pujols drove a 2-2 pitch from right-hander Drew Hutchison into the left-field bullpen for a two-run shot. Mike Trout doubled ahead of the home run and right before the pitch, Hutchison and catcher J.P. Arencibia had a conference on the mound.

    Pujols homered in his 28th game and 111th at-bat with the Angels, who signed him to a 10-year, $240 million contract as a free agent in December and touched off a frenzy that resulted in more than 5,000 extra season tickets being sold.

    The home run drew a reaction quite a distance away, too. Several of his former St. Louis teammates were watching on television in the clubhouse after a win at Houston, and they clapped and cheered loudly when Pujols connected.

    The All-Star slugger did not play in Saturday night's 6-2 victory after manager Mike Scioscia kept him out of the lineup for the first time.

    Pujols had not homered in the regular season since last Sept. 22. This was the first time Pujols, who began the game batting .194 with five RBIs, drove in a run with a hit since April 15.

    Pujols' longest homer drought prior to this was in 2011, when he came up empty in 27 straight games and 105 at-bats.

    Jerome Williams (3-1) was charged with three runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings.

    The right-hander, coming off a three-hit shutout of Minnesota last Tuesday, gave up an unearned run in the seventh after Pujols — a two-time Gold Glove winner — committed his first error of the season with a bad throw to second trying for a forceout. Kelly Johnson followed with an RBI single to make it 4-3.

    Angels lefty Scott Downs injured himself trying to avoid a line-drive single through the box by Arencibia with one out in the ninth and was replaced by LaTroy Hawkins.

    Hawkins turned Omar Vizquel's line drive into a game-ending double play and got his first save with the Angels. Downs had taken over the closer role for the ineffective Jordan Walden, who set a club rookie record last season with 32 saves.

    Hutchison (1-1) gave up four runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings.

    Pujols' longest previous drought at the start of a season was in 2008, when he failed to get one in his first eight games and 27 at-bats. The 32-year-old first baseman averaged 40.5 home runs during his 11 seasons with the Cardinals, including a career-best 49 in 2006. He is the only player in major league history to hit at least 30 homers in each of his first 11 big league seasons.

    This was Pujols' first home run at Angel Stadium, the 31st big league ballpark in which he's hit one.

    NOTES: Jered Weaver will start the opener of the Angels' three-game series at Minnesota on Monday night. In his last start, he pitched a no-hitter against the Twins. The only pitcher to throw no-hitters in consecutive starts was Johnny Vander Meer for Cincinnati in 1938. ... ... Vizquel, who turned 45 years old on April 24, made his third start of the season for Toronto and his first at shortstop — where he won 11 Gold Gloves. Only Ozzie Smith won more at that position (13).