ANAHEIM (AP) — Albert Pujols and C.J. Cron hit two-run homers, and the Los Angeles Angels surged within a half-game of playoff position with an 8-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.
Mike Trout went 3 for 5 with an RBI double as the Angels (79-74) won their third straight and nearly closed the gap on the Houston Astros (80-74), who lost to Texas, for the second AL wild card spot.
Los Angeles also moved past the Minnesota Twins (78-75), who lost at Detroit.
Johnny Giavotella tripled and drove in two runs in his return from a 31-game injury absence for the late-charging Angels. They dropped to the fringe of the pennant race while going 10-19 in August, but they’re 14-8 in September, including six wins in eight games.
Nelson Cruz hit his 43rd homer and Logan Morrison drove in two runs for the Mariners, who have lost three straight for the first time since Aug. 19-22. Vidal Nuno (1-4) gave up four runs on his first 14 pitches, and he was chased in the fifth after yielding nine hits and five runs.
After winning their series in Houston and Minnesota during a 10-game road trip, the Angels opened their final homestand of the season with a rare offensive barrage including 14 hits. Pujols hit his 557th career homer during the Angels’ four-run first inning, and Cron added his 15th shot in the seventh.
They provided plenty of help for Garrett Richards (15-11), who struck out eight in seven innings of five-hit ball.
Cruz connected against Richards in the first inning, tying Baltimore’s Chris Davis for the major league lead in homers.
But the Angels evened it on Nuno’s first seven pitches, and they took a 4-1 lead after seven more.
Erick Aybar hit a leadoff double and scored when Trout’s jammed popup landed in right for a bloop double.
Pujols connected for his 37th homer, his biggest total in the $240 million slugger’s four seasons with the Angels. Cron then doubled and scored on David Freese’s single.
Giavotella drove in runs in the fourth and sixth innings, punctuating his sixth-inning triple with a belly-flop slide into third. He hadn’t played since Aug. 20 due to a nerve palsy that gave him double vision.
Mariners: Manager Lloyd McClendon isn’t sure whether left-hander James Paxton will pitch again this season, thanks to his torn fingernail.
Angels: Giavotella only regained his normal vision a week ago. “I was pretty much cross-eyed the first week after the incident,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to see again.”
Mariners: Felix Hernandez (18-9, 3.54 ERA) needs a victory to keep alive his shot at his first 20-win season.
Angels: Rookie Andrew Heaney (6-3, 3.30 ERA) pitched seven scoreless innings while winning in Seattle in July.
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