MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A road trip against playoff contenders has boosted the Los Angeles Angels’ postseason outlook.
Albert Pujols had two hits and two RBIs, and Garrett Richards was one out away from his second complete game this season as the Angels beat the Minnesota Twins 5-2 to sweep Saturday’s day-night doubleheader.
The Angels are on a seven-game road swing and head to Houston after Sunday’s series finale. Los Angeles is 1 1/2 games behind Houston for the second AL wild card.
Mike Trout and Chris Iannetta added solo homers for Los Angeles (76-72), which won its third straight in the series and pulled a game ahead of Minnesota (75-73) for third in the AL wild-card race.
The Angels took the first game of the doubleheader, a makeup of Friday’s rainout, when Kole Calhoun’s liner eluded shortstop Eduardo Escobar’s glove to allow Daniel Robertson to score from third in the 12th inning for a 4-3 win.
“We all know; we know that we control our own fate from here on out given with the teams we play from here until the end of the season,” Richards said. “We’re just trying to treat it one game at a time and go out and win one game at a time.”
Richards (14-11) gave up five hits and two runs, including a solo homer to Trevor Plouffe. Mike Morin (3-1) struck out the only two batters he faced to earn the win in the first game. Huston Street saved both games of the doubleheader and has 38 saves.
Mike Pelfrey (6-10) allowed four runs on nine hits for Minnesota, which has lost five in a row at home and slipped 2 1/2 games behind the Astros.
“We need to figure it out and we need to do it fast because we’re running out of games,” Pelfrey said.
The Twins were 3 for 17 with runners in scoring position in the doubleheader, leaving 13 men on base.
“I think everyone’s feeling a little bit of weight,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. “It’s a new experience for a lot of these guys. Some of these at-bats, you can tell they’re trying really hard.”
PUJOLS WANTS THE BALL
Pujols snapped a career-long, 0-for-25 slump with a single in the fourth and had everyone scrambling when he asked for the ball to be sent to the dugout.
“He wanted the ball,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “Every time he gets a hit, he’s passing somebody. They might have thought it was something that significant, but he was just joking around because he hadn’t had many hits in the past 20 at-bats or whatever it was.”
Pujols later broke a scoreless tie in the sixth with a two-run double off Pelfrey.
Angels: Reliever Joe Smith suffered a sprained left ankle and was on crutches with his left foot in a boot after he tripped at the team hotel on Saturday morning. Scioscia wasn’t sure how long Smith will be out.
Twins: All-Star closer Glen Perkins pitched in Game 1, his first appearance since Sept. 1, making his return from back spasms. He struck out the only batter he faced, Calhoun, with two runners on in the seventh. … RHP Trevor May also made his return to the lineup after missing two games with a sore right hip. He pitched a scoreless eighth in the first game.
The finale of the four-game series on Sunday will have Minnesota rookie RHP Tyler Duffey (3-1, 3.72) facing RHP Matt Shoemaker (7-9, 4.31) for the Angels. Duffey has allowed just four earned runs in 17 innings at home this season and beat Detroit in his last outing by allowing one run in 6 1-3 innings. Shoemaker will make his first start since Sept. 1 after dealing with right forearm tightness.
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