Pujols' wheels -- yes, his wheels -- spark rally

Veteran's 99th career steal ignites a three-run 8th

Pujols' wheels -- yes, his wheels -- spark rally

ANAHEIM -- Sometimes, when your offense is starving for runs and desperate for a spark, you do crazy things.

If you're Albert Pujols, you steal bases.

The Angels -- scoring more runs per game than just three other teams in the Major Leagues -- scored just twice in the first seven innings against Rockies starter Kyle Kendrick, who entered Tuesday's game with the highest ERA in baseball. Then Pujols singled to start the eighth against Rafael Betancourt, snapping his own 0-for-13 skid.

And then, he took off.

"Making things happen," Angels center fielder Mike Trout said after the Angels' eventual 5-2 win. "No one expected that when he got on first base."

Giavotella's go-ahead single

Especially not Betancourt, who didn't even bother to look in Pujols' direction. With the count at 1-2, the 35-year-old first baseman with a litany of injuries in his lower half got a huge jump that didn't even prompt a throw. He picked up his first stolen base of 2015, and -- more importantly -- put the go-ahead run in scoring position.

"I've got the green light all the time," Pujols said. "I go whenever I feel like it, so if I know that I'm going to make it, I go. ... As much as we've been struggling, especially myself, you try to do whatever it takes to take that extra base."

Three batters later, Pujols scored the eventual winning run on an RBI single from Johnny Giavotella. Immediately after that, Matt Joyce followed with a two-run double to give the Angels a cushion.

Joyce's two-run double

Pujols has stolen only 23 bases since the start of 2011. But he's an instinctual runner who isn't afraid to take risks late in games. And as he pointed out, quite proudly, he did manage to steal 16 bases twice, with the Cardinals in 2005 and '09.

Now, Pujols is one stolen base away from 100.

"Maybe I'll get 100 and shut it down for the rest of my career," Pujols said, smiling. "That's what I tell everybody. But I don't steal a base just to try to get a base. I try to pick key situations where I can help my ballclub win."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.