Pujols catches fire, nears another HR milestone

Angels slugger hits 608th homer, 1 shy of 8th all-time

Pujols catches fire, nears another HR milestone

ANAHEIM -- After seeing Albert Pujols go hitless over the Angels' three-game series against the Indians last week, manager Mike Scioscia said he thought the 37-year-old slugger was "a little out of sync at the plate."

Pujols, however, rejected that notion.

"Why, because I went 0-for?" Pujols said Thursday. "I'm not out of sync. Just a tough series."

Three days later, Pujols put an emphatic end to his 0-for-24 slump -- one of the longest of his career -- by blasting two home runs and collecting three hits against the Blue Jays. He continued his surge on Tuesday night, homering and collecting five RBIs to power the Angels to a 7-1 win over the Phillies at Angel Stadium.

"He had a tough beginning of that road trip," Scioscia said. "He hit some balls hard, and not much to show for it, but this is what Albert can do. When he gets locked in, he's not missing pitches. He can put a team on his shoulders and carry them."

Pujols' two-run double

With 608 career home runs, Pujols is one away from tying Sammy Sosa for eighth on the all-time list and first by a foreign-born player, though he deflected talk of the upcoming milestone, as has been his custom.

"I don't think about it," Pujols said. "My goal every day is to come here, and if I do it, I do it. If I don't, I'm great. There's going to be another day. I can't control that stuff."

Entering Tuesday, Pujols was hitting .233 with a .280 on-base percentage and a .365 slugging percentage, all of which are career lows. Since snapping his skid on Sunday, however, Pujols is 6-for-9 with three home runs and nine RBIs over his last two games.

"I don't think about it like you guys do," Pujols said. "It's as simple as that. I don't care about what you guys write, what you guys say. I don't play here for you guys. I play here for God, my family and my friends."

Pujols gave the Angels their first lead of the night in the fifth. After Yunel Escobar's two-out single and Mike Trout's walk, Pujols delivered a two-run, opposite-field double to put the Halos ahead, 2-1. He then extended the Angels' lead to 5-1 in the seventh by launching a three-run homer to left field.

"I wish that Scioscia gave Pujols the day off today," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He did some damage."

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