Pujols puzzles Angels

Los Angeles (6-10) at Tampa Bay (9-7), 7:10 p.m. EDT

While the Los Angeles Angels had a mostly successful weekend, it was a miserable three days at the plate for Albert Pujols.

The slugger will try again to get on track when the Angels open a three-game road series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night.

Los Angeles took two of three from Baltimore over the weekend, though it couldn’t complete the sweep Sunday, losing 3-2 in 10 innings. LaTroy Hawkins gave up an RBI single in the 10th and Howie Kendrick struck out to end the game with the tying run on third.

After scoring 12 runs in the first two games, the Angels (6-10) were held to seven hits and went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position Sunday.

“We’re going to get going, it’s only a matter of time,” right-hander Dan Haren told the Angels’ official website after allowing two runs in 7 1-3 innings. “We don’t want to dig ourselves too deep of a hole, but the track records and the talent, it’s going to take over at some point.”

The Angels are waiting for that to happen with Pujols. He’s gone 16 games without a home run to open the season – a career worst in that situation – and is batting .246. He was 0 for 11 with three strikeouts over the weekend.

Pujols served as the designated hitter for the first time this season Sunday.

“I think it’s something where we want him swinging the bat 162 games,” manager Mike Scioscia said.

The Rays (9-7) are having no such problems at the plate. They’ve won four of five, averaging 7.0 runs in those contests while hitting nine homers. Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce have each homered twice during that stretch.

Tampa Bay took the final two games of a weekend series with Minnesota, winning 6-2 on Sunday after Jeff Niemann pitched into the sixth and the Rays hit a team-record four sacrifice flies.

The Rays ranked 15th in the major leagues last season with 4.4 runs per game and were 28th in batting with runners in scoring position at .224. They have gone 12 for 28 (.316) with RISP the last five games.

“The name of the game is to score as many runs as possible,” center fielder B.J. Upton said. “In spring training, probably the No. 1 thing on the hitters’ list was trying to do a better job of getting the man in from third base with less than two outs.”

The run support certainly benefited David Price (2-1, 4.20 ERA) in his last outing, as he allowed two runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 12-2 victory over Toronto on Wednesday.

The left-hander is 2-2 with a 4.37 ERA in six starts against the Angels, splitting two decisions last season.

Los Angeles will turn to Ervin Santana (0-3, 6.75), who is off to another tough start. He’s allowed six home runs in 18 2-3 innings.

The right-hander gave up four runs on a pair of homers in seven innings of a 6-0 loss to Oakland on Wednesday.

April has been tough for Santana over the last three seasons, as he’s gone 2-8 with a 5.16 ERA in the month during that span.

He has had widely varying results in going 2-2 in his last four starts against the Rays, posting a 0.60 ERA in two wins and a 10.80 ERA in the losses. He pitched six innings and gave up one earned run in an 8-5 home win April 29, his last matchup with Tampa Bay.

Longoria is 4 for 10 with two homers against Santana.

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