Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jays give Pujols his first homer in 139 tries

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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Drew Hutchison gave up a home run to Albert Pujols. Big deal. So did 273 other pitchers.

The only difference was that none of them had done it this season.

Pujols drove the rookie's 2-2 pitch into the left-field bullpen for his 446th career homer, ending the longest home-run drought of his career after 33 games and 139 at-bats, and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 on Sunday.

"My slider was pretty effective today, other than the one I hung to him," Hutchison said after his fourth big-league start. "I was trying to bounce it in the dirt and I didn't execute it. When you don't execute your pitches, things like that happen."

Hutchison (1-1) gave up four runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. He and catcher J.P. Arencibia had a conference on the mound right before the fateful pitch to Pujols, which came on one out after a double by Mike Trout in the fifth inning.

"I didn't think about what they were going to throw me. I see the ball and hit it," Pujols said. "I've been doing that since I've played this game. This game is not about guessing, it's about making adjustments. Hopefully, you get a good pitch to hit and you hit it."

Pujols homered in his 28th game and 111th at-bat with the Angels, who signed him to a 10-year, $240-million contract as a free agent in December, touching off a frenzy that resulted in more than 5,000 extra season tickets being sold. This was his first home run at Angel Stadium, the 31st big-league ballpark in which he's hit one.

"My first at-bat, I couldn't pick up the ball really good off him," the three-time NL MVP said. "He threw me fastballs and sliders, and the second at-bat he was throwing cutters and curveballs, and I couldn't pick up his pitch from the stretch. By the third at-bat, I was able to make the adjustment."

The loss forced the Blue Jays to settle for a split of the four-game series, which began with back-to-back shutouts by Brandon Morrow and Henderson Alvarez -- the first time that's happened on the road in franchise history. Now they head up to Oakland for the second leg of their 10-game trip.

"I don't think we are satisfied," manager John Farrell said. "I don't know if we can ever be satisfied splitting a series when we had ourselves set up for a series win.

"We gave ourselves some opportunities offensively. The two-out hit was a little bit elusive... I thought Hutch kept things under control. He continued to battle and make quality pitches."

Jerome Williams (3-1) was charged with three runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander, coming off a three-hit shutout of Minnesota last Tuesday, gave up an unearned run in the seventh after Pujols, a two-time Gold Glove winner, committed his first error of the season with a bad throw to second trying for a forceout. Kelly Johnson followed with an RBI single to make it 4-3.

Angels lefty Scott Downs, who had taken over the closer role for an ineffective Jordan Walden, injured his left knee trying to avoid a line-drive single through the box by Arencibia with one out in the ninth. LaTroy Hawkins came in and turned Omar Vizquel's line drive into a game-ending double play for his first save with the Angels.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 7, 2012 C4

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