Memorial Day dinger has Pujols 2 shy of 600

Memorial Day dinger has Pujols 2 shy of 600

ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols continued his historic trek to 600 home runs on Monday night, crushing his 598th in the fourth inning of the Angels' 6-3 loss to the Braves at Angel Stadium.

Pujols hammered an 0-1 fastball from Atlanta right-hander Julio Teheran to left-center field to collect his seventh home run of the season, a solo shot that cut the Braves' lead to 6-2. Pujols' homer had an exit velocity of 105 mph and traveled a projected 384 feet, according to Statcast™.

Luis Valbuena followed with another homer to right-center to bring the Angels within three. It was the fourth time the Halos have gone back-to-back this season.

After extending his hitting streak to five games on Monday, Pujols is now batting .249 with a 0.691 OPS and 35 RBIs -- tied for fourth-most in the American League -- in 46 games this season. His production will be key for the Angels, who will be without star center fielder Mike Trout for six to eight weeks due to a thumb injury.

"Without Mike, if we can get the guys that we feel are talented to get into their game and start doing some of the things they can do, I think we'll be able to absorb [Trout's loss]," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Monday.

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With two more home runs, Pujols will become the ninth player in Major League history to reach 600. Still, the 37-year-old slugger has deflected attention from the upcoming milestone, preferring to keep the focus on the team.

"Not thinking about it," Pujols said recently. "Just let things happen. Whenever the opportunity comes, it happens. One of these days, I'll hit it. I'm not looking for it; my goal is to try to help this ballclub win every day."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.