ANAHEIM -- It was a nondescript night in July, the middle of a three-game series pinning two teams in opposite ends of the standings, but Albert Pujols reminded the Rangers of October.
In a performance akin to his epic three-homer masterpiece in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series, Pujols put the Angels on his back Tuesday, launching a couple of three-run homers in an 8-6 victory at Angel Stadium, his team's fifth in a row and ninth in the last 11 games.
Pujols' six RBIs were his most in a regular-season game since 2009 and his most in any game since Game 3 of the 2011 World Series.
The Angels designated hitter nearly took a fastball to the face in the seventh inning. Rangers reliever Tony Barnette threw a 92-mph fastball up and in that caught the brim of Pujols' helmet but also his forehead, near his left eye. Pujols remained on one knee for a few minutes, but walked to first base, remained in the game and cracked a smile.
"It could've been worse," Pujols said. "It could've been in my face. I'm just glad I was able to smile and not pop my eyes out or break my forehead. I'm just glad I was able to get up and stay on my feet."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Star power: In the fourth, Mike Trout lined a ball 110 mph off the center-field wall and Pujols hit a three-run homer on the very next pitch. In the fifth, Trout was intentionally walked and Pujols clobbered another three-run homer, giving him two multi-homer games over his last three contests. Pujols' 54 multi-homer games are tied with Frank Robinson and Manny Ramirez for 10th on the all-time list. Pujols has 19 home runs this season and 579 for his career, four shy of Mark McGwire for 10th on the all-time list. He's on pace for 33 home runs and 122 RBIs this season.
"It's part of the game," Pujols said of the Rangers intentionally walking Trout in front of him. "Trout's one of the best players in the game. That situation, they were probably trying to get a ground-ball double play with me, especially with the way he has been swinging the bat all year. My goal is to try to get a good pitch to hit and execute, and I was able to do that."
Unfriendly introduction:Robinson Chirinos had never faced Lincecum before, but had quite the introduction. Chirinos hit a 1-1 changeup over the left-field wall to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the second. The Statcast™ distance was 423 feet, his longest of the season, with an exit velocity of 100.1 mph. Chirinos added a two-run home run in the fourth, the second time this season he has hit two in a game. Both came from the No. 9 spot. The only other Ranger to do that twice in one season was Kevin Elster in 1996.
Error prone: Angels third baseman Yunel Escobar mishandled Ryan Rua's chopper with two outs and none on in the fifth, placing him in scoring position. Nomar Mazara followed with a line-drive single that tied the game and Elvis Andrus added a double over the head of left fielder Daniel Nava to give the Rangers their second lead. It was Escobar's 14th error this season, one shy of the Major League lead.
Baserunning cuts rally short: Andrus lined a two-out double in the fifth, scoring Mazara from first base to give the Rangers a 5-4 lead. But Andrus got caught off second base, thinking there would be a throw to the plate. The throw was cut and he was tagged out in a rundown for the third out of the inning.
"If they don't cut the ball, it's going to be a close play at the plate," Banister said. "There are times you have to ensure you're going to score the run. The thought process is you have to protect the run at the plate."
"We were trying to go fastball up and have him chase it out of the zone. It got away from me and tracked right to him. Fortunately he's OK. Fortunately it didn't hit him flush. It's a scary situation. I don't want to hit a guy in the head. He's a quality person and a Hall of Famer. I'm glad he's OK." -- Barnette, on accidently plunking Pujols
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Cam Bedrosian, who has taken over as the Angels' setup man, has notched 20 consecutive scoreless outings since the start of June, the longest streak for the team in two years. When Huston Street entered in the ninth, it marked the Angels' first save opportunity since June 21 and their first save since June 14. Their 28-game streak without a save was the second-longest in franchise history, trailing a 48-game run in 1972.
The Rangers started the third inning with singles by Ian Desmond and Rougned Odor, putting runners on first and third against Lincecum. Adrian Beltre followed with a line drive that was snagged by shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who threw to first to double up Odor. The Rangers challenged the call and it was overturned. But Lincecum struck out Mitch Moreland and Rua to strand the runners.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Left-hander Martin Perez pitches for the Rangers against the Angels at 9:05 p.m. CT on Wednesday, in the finale of the three-game series. Perez is 0-2 with a 7.56 ERA in three starts in July.
Angels: Fellow lefty Hector Santiago takes the ball at Angel Stadium at 7:05 p.m. PT on Wednesday with hopes of maintaining his scoreless streak. Santiago hasn't allowed an earned run in 20 innings this month, striking out 20.