ANAHEIM — Albert Pujols scored from second base on a shallow outfield hit Wednesday. The slowest player in baseball plodded around third and slid safely into home plate ahead of the throw from Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera. After receiving a perfunctory tag, Pujols stood up and put his right hand on the shoulder of Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp as if to console him.
On this night, in that inning, it was fair to show sympathy for the opponent.
The Angels scored seven runs in the third inning of their 7-0 victory over the Phillies on Wednesday. Eleven men batted and seven collected hits, including back-to-back home runs by C.J. Cron and Kaleb Cowart.
Mike Trout also hit his 20th home run of the season in support of starting pitcher JC Ramirez (10-9). Ramirez gave the Angels’ bullpen a much-needed breather by throwing eight shutout innings, the longest start of his career.
Undefeated in the young month of August, the Angels can sweep the Phillies with a win today. They haven’t swept a series since the Chicago White Sox visited Anaheim in May.
The offensive outburst sprang unexpectedly from a patchwork lineup. Kole Calhoun missed his second game with a strained hamstring and Ramon Flores got his second straight start in right field. Yunel Escobar took a day to rest a back injury and Luis Valbuena started at third base for just the third time since the All-Star break. Valbuena and Flores were the only Angels who did not collect a hit.
The other seven starters wasted almost all their bullets in the delirious third inning. The Angels did not collect another hit until the eighth inning and put only two runners on base the rest of the game.
It didn’t matter. Martin Maldonado began the rally with a line-drive double that rattled around the left field corner, then advanced to third base on a groundout by Flores. Maldonado scored when Ben Revere, batting leadoff for just the third time this season, hit a ground ball that was too hot for second baseman Cesar Hernandez. The ball skipped into the outfield – ruled an error – and the Angels led 1-0.
Trout then launched his home run 420 feet to center field. Pujols followed with a single and went to second base on a fielder’s choice groundout by Valbuena. Simmons’ single reached center field slowly enough to score Pujols, giving the Angels a 3-0 lead.
The next batter, Cron, cleared both bullpens with his sixth home run of the season. The inconsistent first baseman is hitting .300…