Albert Pujols hit his first home run against the Los Angeles Angels since they released him in May, sending Walker Buehler and the Dodgers to an 8-2 win Sunday.
Cody Bellinger, the former NL MVP who has struggled mightily this season, homered for the second straight game, helping the World Series champions take two of three at Dodger Stadium in the Freeway Series.
Trea Turner, making his second start as the leadoff batter for the Dodgers since being acquired with Max Scherzer in a trade with Washington, scored twice.
Pujols hit a two-run homer in the second inning, connecting as a pinch-hitter for Justin Turner, who exited with left groin discomfort.
Pujols admired the 418-foot drive for a bit, then had a jubilant celebration with teammates in the dugout. It was the third pinch-hit home run of Pujols’ career, the 14th home run of the season — nine in a Dodgers uniform — and 676th in his storied career.
The 41-year-old Pujols connected off rookie Reid Detmers and gave the Dodgers a 5-0 lead.
Buehler (12-2) pitched six strong innings, allowing one run on four hits and striking out eight. He worked around four walks.
The Dodgers scored twice before Detmers (0-2), who made his second career start, had recorded an out. The Dodgers had three hits, including a pair of doubles, and executed a double steal.
Angels reliever Patrick Naughton made his big league debut in the sixth inning. He allowed one run on two hits and withstood a delay while a fan ran onto the field and sprinted around for a while before being apprehended.
OHTANI MVP TALK
Asked about Shohei Ohtani’s MVP case if the team doesn’t make the playoffs, Angels manager Joe Maddon didn’t think that mattered.
“A-Rod won MVP when he was playing for the Rangers and they were in last place,” Maddon said. “He absolutely deserved it. He was the best player. It comes down to semantics. At the end of the day, whoever is voting, I think, decides based on vibes and whatever you believe and whatever your truth is. Maybe I’m biased but my perspective is this guy is doing something no one has ever done. He has incredible offensive numbers, incredible pitching numbers. How could you walk away from that?”
Ohtani is batting .269 with 37 home runs, 82 RBI and has a 1.014 OPS. On the mound, he’s 6-1 with a 2.93 ERA. He walked as a pinch-hitter on Sunday.
Mike Trout has won three AL MVP awards, only one (2014) when the Angels made the playoffs.
Angels: INF Jared Walsh (right intercostal strain) could be activated as early as Tuesday in Toronto.
Dodgers: LHP Garrett Clevinger (right oblique strain) was placed on the 10-day IL Sunday … INF Gavin Lux (left hamstring strain) started a rehab assignment at Triple-A Oklahoma City on Sunday.
Angels: RHP Chris Rodriguez (2-1, 3.86) is expected to be activated and make the second start of his career on Tuesday in Toronto. The 23-year-old right hander took the loss in his first start against the Rangers on Aug. 2. He allowed four runs – three earned – and struck out seven in six innings.
Dodgers: RHP Max Scherzer (9-4, 2.75) will start Tuesday in Philadelphia, his second start with the Dodgers since being traded from Washington. He dazzled in his debut with the Dodgers as he went seven innings, struck out 10, walked one, and allowed two earned runs in a win over the Houston Astros. He got his first career curtain call to boot.
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