LOS ANGELES — Albert Pujols made the best of a bad pitch.
Pujols muscled a broken-bat single into left field with two outs in the top of the ninth inning off Kenley Jansen, lifting the Los Angeles Angels to 3-2 victory over the Dodgers on Monday night.
The Angels had Mike Trout on second base representing the go-ahead run with Pujols at the plate and first base open, but the Dodgers decided against walking him and pitching to cleanup hitter Mark Trumbo.
“I never think like that,” Pujols said when asked if he was surprised the Dodgers didn’t walk him. “I go up with the mind that they’re going to pitch to me and I look for a good pitch to hit. He pitched me tough; the pitch was not a good pitch to hit.”
The Angels rallied from an early 2-0 deficit. Trout homered in the fourth inning off Dodgers starter Chris Capuano and added an RBI single in the sixth to tie it. He then scored the go-ahead run from second base on Pujols’ hit in the ninth.
Jason Isringhausen (2-0), one of four Angels relievers, got one out for the win. Ernesto Frieri pitched the ninth for his fifth save.
Jansen (4-1) pitched one inning for the Dodgers.
The attendance was announced at 50,559 at Dodger Stadium, but it appeared many fans stayed home to watch the Los Angeles Kings beat the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup for their first title.
Trout began the rally in the ninth with a one-out walk and stole second easily, but Torii Hunter struck out. With Pujols due up, Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and the Dodgers infield joined Jansen on the mound.
“It’s not a great choice either way,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of the option of pitching to Pujols or Trumbo. “It’s a situation where you pick your poison. We feel like Kenley can go after anyone.”
Trumbo is hitting .325 with a team-leading 14 homers and 39 RBIs, so the Dodgers decided to pitch to Pujols.
“If we want to be a good team, we want to go deep with our lineup,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “The way Mark’s swinging the bat, it’s going to give Albert more looks. We’ve got to keep that going.”
The Angels moved within 2 games of Texas in the American League West, the closest they’ve been since April 12. The Dodgers’ lead in the National League West was reduced to 4 games over San Francisco.
Dee Gordon had two hits and a stolen base, and A.J. Ellis walked four times for the Dodgers.
Capuano gave up two runs and eight hits in five-plus innings, missing a chance to join the Cardinals’ Lance Lynn and the Mets’ R.A. Dickey with a major league-leading nine wins.
Angels starter Garrett Richards was coming off his first career major league victory last Tuesday against Seattle, but struggled to throw strikes. He walked five in five innings, but gave up only two runs — one earned — and five hits to keep the Angels close.
The Angels missed several chances to score off Capuano early, stranding seven baserunners in the first three innings. They had five hits and three walks through three innings, but were 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position and trailed, 2-0.
The Angels finally broke through against Capuano in the fourth inning on Trout’s home run, cutting the Dodgers’ lead to 2-1, but missed a chance for more. Just before Trout hit Capuano’s 1-1 pitch into the left-field seats, Richards was picked off first base by Capuano.
Trout’s RBI single on an 0-2 pitch in the sixth tied the game at 2.
“I just tried to shorten up my swing,” said Trout, who raised his average to .354. “It’s that two-strike approach; you’re in battle-mode. Sometimes is helps me. With no strikes I know I start to get big (with his swing).”
The Dodgers also missed scoring opportunities, particularly in the fifth inning when Bobby Abreu’s grounder hit Gordon, who was attempting to steal third on the pitch, and he was automatically out, ending the inning.
The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the first, getting plenty of help from the Angels in the process. Richards walked two batters and had a throwing error on a pickoff attempt at second base.
Trout was unable to pick up Richards’ throw cleanly in center field for another error, allowing Elian Herrera to score from second base with the second run of the inning.
Andre Ethier drove in the first run with a groundout, scoring Gordon from third.
YANKEES 3, BRAVES 0
ATLANTA — Ivan Nova combined with four relievers on a five-hitter and the Yankees claimed a share of first place in the AL East for the first time in seven weeks.
Raul Ibanez led off the second inning with a homer and Robinson Cano had two hits, including a run-scoring single in the first. The surging Yankees climbed into a tie with idle Tampa Bay for the division lead, their first time atop the division since April 24.
MARLINS 4, RED SOX 1
MIAMI — Desperate for a turnaround, the Marlins opened their retractable roof for the first time in nearly two months, took to the outdoor setting and snapped a six-game losing streak with a win over Josh Beckett and the Red Sox.
Josh Johnson outpitched his former teammate, and rookie Donovan Solano drove in two runs as the Marlins improved to 1-6 on their homestand. They’re 3-2 with the roof of their new ballpark open.
NATIONALS 6, BLUE JAYS 3
TORONTO — Bryce Harper had three hits in his return to the starting lineup, Edwin Jackson pitched eight strong innings to win consecutive starts for the first time this season and the Washington Nationals beat the Blue Jays for their fourth straight win.