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Resurgent Pujols a boon for surging Halos
By Maria Guardado
SEATTLE -- Slugger Albert Pujols showed signs of breaking out his extended slump on Friday night, collecting three hits and driving in two runs to help the Angels secure a 6-5 comeback win over the Mariners at Safeco Field.
Pujols, who entered Friday batting .136 over his last 15 games, delivered a two-run single to fuel the Angels' big four-run outburst in the seventh inning. After Mariners right-hander Andrew Moore walked Mike Trout to load the bases with two outs, Pujols lined a 1-2 slider to center field, plating two and trimming Seattle's lead to 5-3. C.J. Cron kept the rally going with an RBI single, and Pujols then scored from second on Andrelton Simmons' double to tie the game, 5-5.
"I know what I can do," Pujols said. "Sometimes you go through a little funk, but you don't want to throw in the towel. You just want to continue to fight. The last thing that I want to think in that opportunity is how much I'm struggling and not do my job. You go 0-for and then you flip the page, and then you get an opportunity out there. You try to separate every at-bat. That's what I've been doing for my whole career, and I've been successful at it."
It's been a trying year for Pujols, who is in the midst of the worst season of his career. The 37-year-old veteran is hitting .231 with a .273 on-base percentage and a .376 slugger percentage, all of which are below his usual levels of production. Despite his struggles, the Angels have stuck with Pujols in the No. 3 spot, behind Trout, and have expressed confidence that he'll be able to turn the corner over the final two months of the season.
"He hit the ball hard three times last night," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Sometimes those hits aren't going to fall in, but his approach is right. His process is great. He works really hard. He got some big hits tonight, and we're going to need him down the stretch."
A resurgent Pujols could be a huge boon for the Angels as they continue their chase for a playoff berth. After winning their fourth straight on Friday, the Angels (59-58) climbed back over .500 for the first time since July 1 and pulled within a half-game of the Twins for the second American League Wild Card spot.
"It's huge," Pujols said. "It's a great start to the road trip. I think that's the best thing, that we're playing guys that are in front of us and right behind us. This is a good matchup. This is what you want."
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.