ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels flexed their muscles, and the Houston Astros didn’t know what hit them.
Albert Pujols hit a go-ahead, two-run homer, and C.J. Cron and pinch-hitter David Freese also homered against the Houston bullpen during an eight-run rally that carried the Angels to an 11-5 victory over the Astros on Saturday night.
“It was a big inning at the right time,” manager Mike Scioscia said after the Angels’ ninth straight home win. “David Freese got us close, and Albert got a huge hit with two outs to give us a lead. Once that inning got rolling, our guys didn’t want it to end.
“They just kept passing that baton and doing whatever they had to do.”
Houston starter Scott Feldman left after six innings with a 5-2 lead and was replaced by Anthony Bass (1-1). Cron greeted him with a leadoff single before Freese batted for John McDonald and hit his first homer in 124 career at-bats at Angel Stadium and first in the majors as a pinch-hitter.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re facing,” Pujols said. “We hit some balls hard against Feldman, but he made some good pitches when he needed them to get out of some innings. But our goal is not to concentrate on who’s on the mound. It’s to go out there and have quality at-bats against anybody.”
Kole Calhoun followed with a single for his third hit of the game. Bass retired Mike Trout before Pujols drove the next pitch for his 19th homer.
It was the 511th of his career, tying Mel Ott for 23rd place on baseball’s list and putting one away from tying Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews. Pujols added his 542nd career double in the ninth, overtaking Rogers Hornsby for 30th place.
“It’s good to see him attacking the ball the way he can,” Scioscia said. “Albert knows how important he is to our lineup. And when he doesn’t play to his potential, nobody feels it more than he does. We need Albert to do what he’s capable of, and he’s doing it.”
Tony Sipp, who surrendered Trout’s walkoff homer in the ninth inning of the Astros’ 7-6 loss on Friday, gave up a walk to Josh Hamilton and an RBI double to Erick Aybar. After an intentional walk to Howie Kendrick, Josh Zeid came on and yielded Cron’s three-run homer.
“We’ve got to be better,” Zeid said. “I know I personally have to be a lot better. They’re a great hitting team, and we weren’t making the right pitches.
“I know I have to be more aggressive.”
Trout, the 14th Angels batter in the seventh, struck out against Zeid with the bases loaded to end the team’s most productive inning of the season after 55 minutes and 74 pitches.
“It was a tough inning,” Bass said. “I looked back at video, and balls were just coming back over the middle of the plate for them. They were just hitting everything. If I had made some pitches on the corners, I think it’s definitely a different ballgame.”
Michael Roth (1-0) pitched two perfect innings of relief for the victory after rejoining the Angels from the minors earlier Saturday. Los Angeles is a season-best 14 games over .500 and remains 3 1-2 games behind AL West-leading Oakland.
Angels lefty Hector Santiago gave up five runs, six hits and three walks in five innings of his 11th start of a season in which he has been demoted to the bullpen and to the minors. He is 0-7, and his ERA jumped from 4.08 to 4.50.
“Some counts got away from him a little bit today and he just missed with some pitches,” Scioscia said.
Feldman allowed two runs on six hits and struck out five without walking a batter. Chris Carter hit a grand slam for Houston.
The Astros, who came in with an AL-worst .235 batting average, scored five runs in the third after the Angels took a 1-0 lead in the first on Pujols’ RBI single.
Jason Castro tied it with an RBI double before Santiago hit George Springer on the left leg and gave up a single to Matt Dominguez. That set the stage for Carter, who also homered on Friday.
Carter slammed his 15th homer of the season and second career grand slam.
NOTES: The Angels became the fourth team to reach the 50 wins. … Freese’s homer was the first by an Angels pinch-hitter since Chris Iannetta’s solo shot on Sept. 4, 2013. … Roth was selected to the major league roster to replace LHP Rich Hill, who was designated for assignment. … Former Angels 3B Troy Glaus, who hit a franchise record 47 home runs in 2000 and was the 2002 World Series MVP, threw a ceremonial first pitch. … The Angels optioned RHP Cory Rasmus to Triple-A Salt Lake, after obtaining LHP Joe Thatcher and OF Tony Campana from Arizona in a trade that sent OF Zach Borenstein and RHP Joey Krehbiel to the Diamondbacks.
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