- Associated Press - Monday, May 23, 2016

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Albert Pujols isn’t reflecting yet. He and the Angels have too much work to do.

Pujols hit a two-run home run, the 569th of his career, and Nick Tropeano threw 6 2/3 strong innings to help Los Angeles beat the Texas Rangers 2-0.

The Angels have won eight of their last 11 games.

Pujols’ homer in the third inning tied him for 12th in career homers with Rafael Palmeiro.

“At the end of my career, I can look back,” said Pujols, who played first base for the 13th time this season instead of his usual designated hitter role. “Right now, I’m just trying to produce and help this ballclub win. That’s the most important thing.”

Pujols is batting .340 in his last 12 games after hitting only .132 over his first 18. That has raised his season batting average to .228. His lowest figure for a full season is the .244 that he hit last season.

Tropeano (3-2) allowed four hits and one walk while striking out six. He has held opponents to two runs or fewer in seven of nine starts and lowered his ERA to 2.86. He retired 10 straight before Elvis Andrus’ two-out single in the seventh inning.

“That’s a great effort by Nick today,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He has good stuff, and his stuff was consistent.”

“I just kind of trusted my stuff and just let the defense work,” Tropeano said. “I think in my past, I was trying to be too fine with my pitches. Trying to throw that perfect pitch instead of a quality pitch down in the zone early in the count.”

Texas’ Derek Holland (3-4) pitched 6 2/3 innings, matching his longest outing of the season, and allowed two runs on seven hits.

“You’ve got to tip your hat to Pujols,” Holland said. “The ball came down the middle. He’s paid to hit the ball like that.”

Joe Smith got his sixth save of the season. Angels relievers stranded two runners in the seventh inning, three in the eighth and one in the ninth. Texas was 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.

Pujols’ home run followed a double by Mike Trout, who had two hits. Trout is hitting .352 in his last 37 games after opening the season at .185.

YU READY?

Before the game, Texas announced that Yu Darvish would make his first major league start since August 2014 on Saturday against Pittsburgh. Darvish had Tommy John surgery in March 2015.

EXCELLENT WORK, FOR STARTERS

Angels starters have held opponents to two total runs in their last 27 innings.

“Our guys are getting now 18, 19, sometimes 21, 22 outs in starts,” Scioscia said. “And good outings, where they’re giving us chances to win.”

This is happening with a rotation that has lacked C.J. Wilson all season, got one start from Andrew Heaney and recently lost Garrett Richards for a prolonged period - all because of injury.

JOHNNY ON THE SPOT

Johnny Giavotella had two hits to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games. Giavotella also made a diving catch on a broken-bat liner hit by Adrian Beltre in the eighth inning with the bases loaded.

“It was probably a questionable dive but something that I had to do just to make sure I secured it,” he said. “I brought it into my glove just to make sure that ball wasn’t getting to the outfield.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Angels: Closer Huston Street (oblique) is scheduled to throw in an extended spring training game on Friday after pitching a simulated inning at Globe Life Park on Monday.

Rangers: LF Josh Hamilton (knee), sidelined since March, will have another surgery on June 8 and will miss the entire season. OFs Shin-Soo Choo (hamstring) and Drew Stubbs (toe) were placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday, Choo retroactive to Saturday.

UP NEXT

Angels RHP Jhoulys Chacin (1-2) has two no-decisions since being acquired from Atlanta. He allowed four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in the Angels’ win over the Dodgers on Thursday. The four May starts made by Rangers LHP Martin Perez (1-4) have resulted in two losses and two no-decisions despite a 2.59 ERA. In Perez’s nine starts this season, the Rangers have scored one run or fewer five times.

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