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Albert Pujols saves the series with a late-innings homer, Angels beat Pirates 5-4

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Angels 5  Pirates 4


The Angels finished up their three game set in Pittsburgh today, with Hector Santiago facing off against the tough Gerrit Cole. If they wanted to come out of PNC with a series win, they'd need to find some magic, and they'd need some good pitching. They got one and a half of those things, basically.

Santiago was rattled a bit early, something we've seen happen in his past few starts, to varying degrees of utter failure. Today? Well, he didn't get tossed and he didn't let the game get blown wide open, so consider the damage mitigated. So what'd Santiago do exactly to get himself in trouble early on? To put it simply, he hoisted himself by his own petard. To put it even simpler, he done blowed up himself out there on the mound.

While the Angels were busy getting to Pirates starter Gerrit Cole early, with an Albert Pujols sac fly giving them a 1-0 lead in the first, Santiago was taking the team a couple steps back with his performance on the mound. A Starling Marte single in the first tied things up quick, and then the second inning happened. Santiago had a tiny meltdown, in which some hits and walks would load up the bases, and then Santiago would walk one run in, and then hit Jung Ho Kang with a pitch, sending another run home. The Angels were now down 3-1, with two of those runs coming solely at the hands of Hector Santiago.

Santiago, to his credit, settled down big time after that ugly second inning, but Mike Scioscia would still end his day after four innings pitched, 90 pitches total. 4 IP, 4 H and 3ER for today's Halos starter, and all of a sudden we had ourselves a bullpen-heavy game, which isn't optimal, considering they may need a couple of those arms to start a game in the coming days. Jose Alvarez would allow a run on an RBI single from Josh Harrison, setting the 4-1 table for a Pirates win, unless the Angels had a comeback in their arsenal.

The Angels have shown a penchant for late rallies lately, though, and just like  yesterday, they'd lie in wait for the perfect time to strike. That perfect time became the seventh and eighth: in the seventh, C.J. Cron and Gregorio Petit finally got to Cole, both hitting doubles off the Pirates stud and driving in runs. It was 4-3 heading into the eighth, and after a Kole Calhoun single, Albert Pujols hit his 12th homer of the year to left-center, a blast that also gave the Angels a 5-4 lead late in the game.

Wow. An Albert Pujols homer to save the day late in a game? I can dig that. More of that, please? The Angels had their victory, and a series win on the road, in their grasp. Now it was just down to Huston Street to shut down Pittsburgh and call it a day.

Despite Street doing his best to make us all think a Buttercup was on today's menu, allowing guys at second and third, then loading up the bases with an IBB to Marte, with one out. A huge double play came immediately following the IBB, though, and the Angels walked away with a big win in PNC Park, all on the back of Pujols

Sometimes, the slugger comes through in the clutch, and sometimes, Albert Pujols is all the Panther we need.