Albert Pujols hit his first home run versus the Los Angeles Angels since they released him in May, sending Walker Buehler and the Dodgers to an 8-2 victory Sunday.
Cody Bellinger, the former NL MVP who has struggled mightily this season, homered for the second consecutive 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 obtained 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.
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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.
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.
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