Halos strike early vs. Sox, keep hope alive

Halos strike early vs. Sox, keep hope alive

CHICAGO -- Brandon Phillips, Luis Valbuena and Mike Trout launched second-inning home runs to back rookie Parker Bridwell as the Angels kept their flickering playoff hopes alive with a 9-3 win over the White Sox on Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The Angels remain five games behind the Twins for the second American League Wild Card spot, though they drifted closer to elimination after Minnesota defeated the Indians, 8-6, to lower its magic number to one with five games left to play.

"We're in it," Bridwell said. "We're not out yet. As long as we've still got a chance, we've got to be optimistic. I'm excited to see where it goes. Things kind of have to fall in place for us, but you never know."

Jose Abreu homered in the first to give the White Sox an early 1-0 lead, but the Angels surged ahead after battering Chris Volstad for six runs in the second via Phillips' two-run homer, Valbuena's solo shot and Trout's three-run blast. Abreu added a solo shot in the sixth for his 33rd overall, 11th career multi-homer game and fifth this season, as well as putting him in a tie for 15th with Sherm Lollar on the franchise's career home run list at 124.

Abreu's second home run

"He continues to show why he's one of the best in the game right now," said White Sox manager Rick Renteria of Abreu. "He's a very good hitter who has power. He continues to go out and give you great at-bats."

Bridwell gave up three runs on five hits, including Abreu's two solo shots, while walking two and striking out one over 6 2/3 innings. The Angels are now 16-3 in games started by the 26-year-old right-hander this season.

Bridwell fans Brantly

"I think what Bridwell did was really important," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He was pitch-efficient. He was pitching to contact. There were a couple walks there, but for the most part, he had contact on his terms. He got a lot of weak contact, and outside of Abreu, who obviously hit a couple balls that might still be going, he pitched a good game."

Volstad, who pitched in place of Carson Fulmer on Tuesday, yielded six runs on six hits over five innings in his first start since Oct. 2, 2012. Volstad allowed six runs in the second but pitched four perfect innings around that rally.

Volstad freezes Upton

"It's pretty interesting when you look at it like that," Volstad said. "The second inning got away from me, a few bad pitches. I was just trying to give the team what I had out there tonight and build off those four other innings, working down, getting ground balls. So a lot of positives tonight."

Yolmer Sanchez departed after three innings with a right knee contusion and was replaced at third base by Tyler Saladino. X-rays were negative, and the White Sox deemed Sanchez day to day.

Sanchez exits game in 5th

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Angels' home run barrage: Entering Tuesday, the Angels had been struggling to generate offense, averaging only 2.8 runs per game over their recent 1-7 skid. But their bats came alive in the second, when they sent nine batters to the plate and scored six runs to seize a 6-1 lead. Albert Pujols led off the big inning with a single and scored after Phillips hammered an 0-1 changeup over the left-field fence. After Andrelton Simmons was thrown out at third trying to stretch a double into a triple, Luis Valbuena crushed a 3-2 sinker to center field for his 22nd homer of the season. Martin Maldonado then delivered a two-out single and Kole Calhoun walked to set up Trout's three-run shot to center, his second homer in as many days.

Trout's 31st home run

It marked only the second time the Angels have hit three home runs in an inning this season. They also accomplished the feat on Aug. 2 against the Phillies.

Pujols' milestone RBI: Pujols capped the Angels' big night at the plate with a two-run single in the seventh, which extended the Halos' lead to 9-2. The hit gave Pujols 100 RBIs on the season and 1,917 for his career, tying him with Eddie Murray for eighth place on the all-time list, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

Pujols' two-run single

"That's a tremendous milestone," Scioscia said. "A lot of times people don't see how hard Albert works to keep himself in the lineup, to keep going. He's just a professional hitter, and obviously it's a great milestone for him."

Pujols has now recorded 100 RBIs in 14 seasons over his career, matching Alex Rodriguez for the most 100-RBI campaigns in Major League history.

QUOTABLE
"I'm just a professional hitter. I like to hit for power, I like to get my base hits. I like to do all a professional hitter can do, not just hit for power. That's how I consider myself." -- Abreu, through interpreter Billy Russo, on his .307 average with 33 homers, 102 RBIs and 42 doubles

UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the sixth, Avisail Garcia appeared to make a grab on Phillips' fly ball to shallow right field, but the Angels challenged the call after replay showed that the ball hit the grass before Garcia could get his glove around it. The ruling was overturned, allowing Phillips to come away with a one-out single.

Phillips drops in single

WHAT'S NEXT
Angels: Right-hander Garrett Richards (0-2, 1.50 ERA) will make his sixth start of the season on Wednesday as the Angels and White Sox meet for the third game of their four-game series at 5:10 p.m. PT at Guaranteed Rate Field. In nine career appearances against the White Sox, including three starts, Richards is 2-1 with a 3.62 ERA.

White Sox: Reynaldo Lopez (3-3, 4.54) makes his final start of the 2017 season Wednesday night with a 7:10 p.m. CT first pitch at home. Lopez has a 3-1 record and 3.55 ERA over his past four starts, but has struck out only four in 25 1/3 innings during that time.

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Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.