ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Albert Pujols hit his 599th career homer during the Los Angeles Angels’ nine-run third inning in a 9-3 victory over struggling Bartolo Colon and the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.
Pujols moved to the brink of his latest milestone with a three-run homer off Colon early in the Angels’ biggest one-inning rally of the season.
The 37-year-old slugger has homered in back-to-back games for the first time this season. He will be the ninth player in baseball history, and the fourth-youngest, to reach 600 homers with his next shot.
Parker Bridwell (1-0) earned his first major league victory, pitching six-hit ball into the seventh inning.
In their second game after losing Mike Trout to an injured thumb ligament, the Angels still managed plenty of runs to back their first-time starter.
The 44-year-old Colon (2-6) committed one of the Braves’ three errors in the third, leading to seven unearned runs. After giving up seven hits and getting seven outs in his latest unimpressive outing, Colon’s spot in Atlanta’s rotation could be in jeopardy.
Matt Kemp and Tyler Flowers homered for the Braves.
Bridwell persisted through a bumpy beginning to win in his first appearance for the Angels, who acquired the right-hander from Baltimore last month.
After converting Bridwell into a starter, the Angels called him up for what’s likely a spot appearance in their injury-plagued rotation, making him the ninth starter and 22nd pitcher to appear for the club in just 55 games.
All nine Angels batters scored one run apiece during the ramshackle third-inning rally, which would have ended before it began if Jace Peterson had completed a double play on Kole Calhoun’s one-out grounder. Instead, Pujols’ subsequent homer cleared the bases.
After his first-inning single, Pujols’ homer was his 2,873rd career hit, matching Babe Ruth’s career total in 30 fewer games.
The Angels reached base in 12 consecutive at-bats during the rally, which included an error by shortstop Dansby Swanson along with a handful of head-scratching defensive plays that weren’t errors.
Braves: 2B Brandon Phillips didn’t play to get extra rest for his bruised right knee. He isn’t expected to need a stint on the DL.
Angels: OF Cameron Maybin sat out after feeling tightness in his side after making a running catch Monday. …. 3B Yunel Escobar will play a rehab game with Single-A Inland Empire on Wednesday, and he could return to the Angels on Thursday. He has missed two weeks with a strained hamstring. … Closer Huston Street will pitch a minor-league rehab game soon with hopes of rejoining the Angels this weekend. He has missed the entire season with a strained lateral muscle. … Alex Meyer (back spasms) is expected to return to the rotation Thursday.
Braves: Jaime Garcia (2-3, 3.58 ERA) has just one win in his last eight starts despite a string of decent performances. He is making his eighth start on the road, with just two in Atlanta.
Angels: Jesse Chavez (4-6, 5.09 ERA) has been solid at home during his up-and-down season. He has never allowed a run to the Braves in four career appearances.