- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) - Heading toward the plate after the 500th homer of this career, Albert Pujols glanced ahead and saw a throng of Los Angeles Angels teammates waiting right there to greet him.

He was pleased by the outpouring of support. He also had a message.

“I was pretty emotional running the bases and when I … looked at all these guys coming out, it was hard,” Pujols said. “But I just told them, ‘We’ve got a game to win.’”

Not a problem, especially with Pujols hitting like the Pujols of old. Continuing a strong stretch, the Angels first baseman became the first major leaguer to hit his 499th and 500th homers in the same game, driving in five runs Tuesday night to help Los Angeles beat the Washington Nationals 7-2.

“I knew this year, it was going to happen, whether it was tonight, tomorrow, two months from now,” Pujols said. “So my goal was just to prepare myself every day to try to help this organization win.”

The three-time NL MVP connected twice off right-hander Taylor Jordan (0-3) - a three-run homer in the first inning and two-run drive in the fifth. He’s the 26th player in big league history to reach the milestone.

Pujols also hit his 400th homer at Nationals Park.

“I admire the man. I admire his ability and the way he goes about playing the game, and I have for some time,” said Washington manager Matt Williams, who also played against Pujols. “I just wish he’d do it against somebody else.”

Pujols is the first player to collect his 499th and 500th homers in the same game, according to STATS. About three months past his 34th birthday, he’s also the third-youngest to get to 500; Alex Rodriguez and Jimmie Foxx were 32.

Making a recent surge, Pujols has eight homers in the past 13 games. He leads the Angels with 19 RBIs.

“That’s the Albert I’m used to seeing,” Angels outfielder Mike Trout said. “Full, healthy, 100 percent healthy.”

The 500th homer went to left-center field at Nationals Park, on an 89 mph pitch with the count at 1-2. The ball was grabbed - and later given to Pujols - by a man who identified himself as Thomas Sherrill, a 29-year-old Air Force staff sergeant from Pomona, Calif.

“That pitch was supposed to be low and away,” Jordan said, “and I guess I tried too hard to get it there.”

Pujols clapped his hands together a few strides before trotting home, then pointed both index fingers to the sky. Fans gave Pujols a partial standing ovation, and he acknowledged it by tipping his red batting helmet as he approached the dugout. After heading down the steps, he came back out for a curtain call.

“That’s something you tell your kids when you get older. I don’t know the next guy who’s going to hit 500,” said Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs (2-0), who gave up two runs in seven innings. “Nobody knows how to react. You don’t see it too much.”

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