Pujols reaches 95 RBIs for 15th season

Pujols reaches 95 RBIs for 15th season

ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols, who leads the Major Leagues with 35 RBIs since the All-Star break, made the Mariners pay for walking Mike Trout intentionally in front of him Thursday night.

The Angels' designated hitter split the left-center gap with a two-run double off reliever Nick Vincent in the eighth inning of what had been a one-run game, and his team went on to hold off Seattle for a 6-4 victory and a four-game series split at Angel Stadium.

With 95 RBIs on the season, Pujols is the only big league player to reach the 95 RBI-plateau in 15 of his first 16 seasons. Pujols and Hank Aaron are the only players to record 15-such seasons in Major League history.

"It's fun to watch," Trout said of Pujols hitting in the clutch. "I went up there ready to hit, and they walked me. It seems like every time I'm on base, he drives me in.

"He's been in the league for a while. He's a professional hitter. He's been in big spots before, he knows what to do."

Pujols wasn't the only standout on Thursday.

Matt Shoemaker (7-13) exited after seven strong innings with a 3-2 lead, and the Angels took that advantage into the bottom of the eighth, thanks to the best nine pitches rookie reliever Jose Valdez has thrown in his brief stint with the big league club.

Valdez, who had struggled with control on the road, came in with the potential tying run on second in Norichika Aoki, who had slashed a double off shortstop Andrelton Simmons' right knee.

Valdez, featuring fastballs in the 95-96 mph range, got Franklin Gutierrez to fly out, struck out Robinson Cano, and retired Nelson Cruz on a grounder to Simmons. Cano and Cruz had hit solo homers off Shoemaker, giving them a combined 58 for the season.

"Jose did great to come out and get the heart of their order," manager Mike Scioscia said. "A big effort from Jose."

Valdez was the only one of the Angels right-handed relievers who had not pitched Wednesday, when Tyler Skaggs exited in the fourth.

Earl Bloom is a contributor for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.