Albert answers Padres' rally with walk-off winner

Albert answers Padres' rally with walk-off winner

 ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols lined a broken-bat single through the left side against Padres closer Craig Kimbrel with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, sending the Angels to a thrilling 4-3 walk-off win in Southern California on Memorial Day.

With the score tied at 3 and Kevin Quackenbush on the mound in the bottom of the ninth, Marc Krauss drew a one-out walk and Johnny Giavotella followed with a single up the middle, putting runners on the corners. Kimbrel entered the game, struck out Erick Aybar and intentionally walked Mike Trout to load the bases. Shortly after that, Pujols came through with his eighth career walk-off hit or RBI.

Two pitches later, Pujols got a 1-0 fastball on the inside corner and muscled it into left field for his second walk-off RBI this season.

"It's tough one, it really is," said Padres manager Bud Black on the decision to face Trout or Pujols. "You've got, arguably, the best player in the game and a future Hall of Famer. Pick your poison is a good term. It didn't work out for us."

The Angels got on the board on a second-inning infield single by Carlos Perez, then got an RBI single by Matt Joyce in the fourth and took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth, when Aybar dove into home plate to score on a wild pitch. But the Padres came all the way back against lefty reliever Jose Alvarez in the seventh on an RBI double by Yangervis Solarte and a two-run single by Will Venable.

Two innings later, Pujols sent the Angels to their fourth walk-off win of the year.

"Albert is as good as there is in those situations, when it's late and it's clutch," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He hasn't gotten that many to fall in this year, but he's tough and it's going to be a good at-bat."

Pujols on Angels' walk-off win

Jered Weaver shut the Padres out through the first six innings and was charged with one run on six hits and a walk in 6 2/3 innings, but was denied a chance at his fourth consecutive win. The 32-year-old right-hander has allowed just five runs in 30 innings over his last four starts, dropping his ERA from 6.29 to 4.06. San Diego's Tyson Ross gave up just three runs (two earned) despite allowing 10 hits in six innings. He has a 3.19 ERA in five May starts.

Weaver's one-run outing

From Anaheim, with (G)love: The Padres had a couple of web gems in the third inning as, with a runner on first, right fielder Abraham Almonte saved a run with a lunging grab in the right field corner on Trout's line drive. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks later corralled a line drive from Pujols to end the inning.

Middlebrooks snags the liner

Early hook: With one on and two outs in the seventh and some left-handed hitters due up for the Padres, Angels manager Mike Scioscia took Weaver out with just 104 pitches. Then Alvarez, used mostly as a long reliever, walked pinch-hitter Jedd Gyorko, gave up an RBI double to Solarte and served up a game-tying, two-run bloop single to Venable.

"Weave might have had a little bit left, but with where we were and wanting to give Jose some room to work through, I felt that was the time to make the move," Scioscia said. "Obviously it didn't work out, but the process of matching up and trying to get those guys in the right side -- particularly Solarte and Venable, as a left-handed hitter -- looked good."

Venable's game-tying single

Not left out: Venable tied the game in the seventh inning when he reached out and poked a two-run single to right field off Alvarez. It was just the second hit against a lefty this season for the left-handed hitting Venable.

"It's not rocket science. If I were the manager, I would've done the same thing. Trout can beat you either way. … It doesn't make any sense to let the best guy on the team beat you." -- Pujols, on the Padres choosing to intentionally walk Trout to pitch to him

"They just had a good game plan of hitting it where they're not. I'm trying to get ground balls out there and they're finding a way through. The defense was excellent tonight. If I can stay right there, let the defense work behind me, the results are going to be pretty positive," -- Ross, who allowed three runs (two earned) on 10 hits in six innings

Monday marked the 14th time Trout had been intentionally walked ahead of Pujols, a three-time National League MVP with the Cardinals. His single off Kimbrel gave him 18 career walk-offs. Since 2000, only David Ortiz has more (19). Pujols also came through with a walk-off sacrifice fly against the Rockies on May 13.

Ross extended the Padres streak of quality starts to seven -- which ties a season-high for the team. Teammate James Shields and Ross have two quality starts during this stretch with Ian Kennedy, Odrisamer Despaigne and Andrew Cashner having one apiece. The Padres lead the big leagues in quality starts (31). The Angels, meanwhile, are tied for the American League lead with 27.

Ross starts double play

Black challenged a call in the fifth inning when Aybar scored from third base on a wild pitch by Ross, sliding in just ahead of the tag by catcher Derek Norris. Aybar was ruled safe. The call stood and the Angels had their third run of the game.

Aybar scores after challenge

Padres: Despaigne (2-3, 6.11) gets the start at 7:05 p.m. PT Tuesday. Despaigne, who is filling in for an injured Brandon Morrow, needed a solid start the last time out to hang onto his spot in the rotation. He did just that, allowed two runs in six innings against the Cubs.

Angels: Matt Shoemaker (3-4, 6.29 ERA) takes the ball for the second of a three-game series, hopeful of improving on the home-run troubles that have plagued him this year. The 28-year-old right-hander has allowed an AL-leading 13 homers already, one fewer than he gave up in 91 2/3 more innings last year.

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