Page last updated on Fri Mar 06 15:01:53 EST 2015
04/06/2013 8:46 PM EDT
Pujols leads Angels past Texas; Hamilton struggles

AP Sports Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Albert Pujols didn't have to wait nearly
as long for his first home run this year. He had to wait awhile
for another chance to swing the bat, though.

Then he homered again.

Pujols went deep in his only two plate appearances that weren't
intentional walks to offset another tough day for Josh Hamilton
in his second game back in Texas, and the Los Angeles Angels
beat the Rangers 8-4 Saturday.

Exactly a month earlier than he hit his first homer in his debut
season for the Angels last year, Pujols drove a two-run shot to
the lawn in center field off Matt Harrison in the first inning
and watched Hamilton strike out twice behind him after taking
two of three intentional walks.

The next - and last - time the Rangers let him swing, Pujols
homered off reliever Jason Frasor in the sixth.

"I think it was a smart move," said Hamilton, who is 1 for 20
with 10 strikeouts after signing a $125 million, five-year
contract. "Albert was dominating today, obviously. If I was in
their situation, I would have done the same thing."

Mark Trumbo also had a two-run homer in the first against
Harrison (0-2), who gave up eight hits and five runs in five
innings after losing to Houston on opening night.

"The biggest thing was that first inning," said Harrison, who
has an 8.44 ERA through two starts. "The balls I left up in the
zone were hit hard, and it just led to a four-spot in that first
and put us in a big hole."

Mitch Moreland and Ian Kinsler hit third-inning home runs
against Tommy Hanson (1-0), who gave up three runs and six hits
over six innings in his Angels debut after arriving in an
offseason trade with Atlanta.

The boos were loud again for Hamilton, who said before the game
that his wife had to call over security during Friday's home
opener for Texas because fans were shouting insults and
obscenities at their family. There were no major incidents, and
Hamilton said his family planned to return for the remaining two

Hamilton, a five-time All-Star with the Rangers who went 0 for 4
in his return Friday, walked in the first inning ahead of
Trumbo's opposite-field home run to right.

First base was open the next two times Pujols came up, so
Rangers manager Ron Washington chose to pitch to his former
slugger. Hamilton struck out both times on breaking pitches in
the dirt. He flied out to left in the sixth and again in the
eighth after another intentional walk to Pujols.

"Hamilton is not swinging the bat well, we had some left-handers
out there and we just went for the matchup each time,"
Washington said. "Each time we didn't walk (Pujols), you seen
what happened."

In his return to Texas, Hamilton is 0 for 8 with a walk and four
strikeouts, and isn't hitting the ball very hard when he does
make contact.

"If I was somewhere else, the same thing would be going on.
It'll get better," Hamilton said.

Pujols, also playing under the weight of a huge new contract at
this time a year ago, didn't hit his first homer of 2012 until
May 6 at Toronto. Odds were pretty good he would go deep at
Rangers Ballpark, where he has four multihomer games in his past
15, including a three-homer outburst in Game 3 of the 2011 World
Series with St. Louis.

After a slow start last year, Pujols knows what Hamilton is
going through.

"We're only five games into the season. Let the guy settle
down," Pujols said. "Let's see where we are a month from now.
You guys said that last year about me and I proved a lot of
people wrong."

Peter Bourjos greeted Frasor with a home run to start the sixth,
and two outs later Pujols fouled off a pair of two-strike
pitches before sending a fastball into the seats in left field.

"We know it's a long season, but you don't want to wait too
long," Pujols said. "You want to get it going early. This is a
big series and we have a tough month."

Moreland broke an 0-for-13 spell to start the season and was the
first batter to reach against Hanson when he hit a 435-foot home
run halfway up the upper deck in right field in the third
inning. Kinsler followed two batters later with a homer to left.

"I was just trying not to jump up and down running around the
bases because I finally got a hit," said Moreland, who went
hitless with two strikeouts in his other three at-bats. "It's
definitely not the start you want. But man, we've got a long
ways to go."

Nelson Cruz homered inside the left-field foul pole in the ninth
off Angels closer Ernesto Frieri, who was pitching because he
hadn't appeared since getting the save on opening day Monday in

NOTES: Pujols made his first start of the season at DH, and
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he planned to give Hamilton an
occasional break from defense as well. ... The Rangers' infield
committed its first error after 77 clean chances to start the
season when 3B Adrian Beltre booted a grounder in the seventh.
... Hanson allowed the fourth-most homers in the NL last season
(27) and gave up four in 18 1-3 innings during spring training.
... Rangers INF Leury Garcia made his major league debut as a
pinch-hitter for Lance Berkman in the eighth and struck out.

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