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Torii Hunter leads Angels' charge with another home run

Outfielder hits his third in four games and drives in three runs to back up C.J. Wilson, who pitches seven scoreless innings before giving up three runs in the eighth in a 4-3 victory over Minnesota.

April 30, 2012|By Lance Pugmire

Whatever mental hangups have clouded the Angels' start, Torii Hunter is immune.

The veteran Angels' right fielder struck his third home run in four games Monday, finishing with three runs batted in as the Angels withstood a late rally and defeated the Minnesota Twins, 4-3, at Angel Stadium.

"I'm trying to get it going, that's all I'm trying to do," Hunter said.

The Twins scored all their runs in the eighth inning, forcing starting pitcher C.J. Wilson (3-2) to depart after giving up only three singles and a walk in his first seven innings.

The Angels started the night mired in a 1-6 skid during which they scored only 10 runs.

Their sour April left them ranked 13th in the American League in runs, batting average and several other offensive categories.

"It was a tough month for everyone, Torii's the only one who's swinging the bat," slugger Albert Pujols said after going one for four with a double.

Pujols' homerless streak stands at 92 at-bats, but his two-out double in the first inning and foul line drive that sailed just a few feet left of the left-field foul pole could indicate the expected power surge is coming for the three-time National League most valuable player.

"Once he gets that big hit … I went through this, too, but hit a grand slam to win a game, and I was home," Hunter said.

Pujols said he feels good. He encouraged the group at a pregame hitter's meeting, and emerged soaking in sweat after hitting in batting cages.

"I know I'm going to hit a home run," Pujols said after Monday's game. "It could be the next game, next week, next month, or tomorrow. Home runs come in bunches.

"My attitude is try to get myself ready with the best approach. I don't even think about [starting off homer-less]. This is not about me. It's about the 25 guys. It's baseball, man. I'm trying to stay positive. Our main goal is to stay positive."

Wilson was so positive about what he said were his finest seven innings of the season he "got a little too amped up" and had to depart for relievers LaTroy Hawkins and closer Scott Downs (second save) in the eighth inning.

After a Chris Iannetta home run that gave the Angels a 4-0 lead in the seventh inning, the Twins got four hits in the eighth, and had the tying run at second base before Downs retired Ryan Doumit on a groundout.

"You can't fault yourself for trying too hard, you just have to remind yourself to not try too hard," Wilson said.

Sound advice.

"I know what I need to do," Pujols said in another corner of the clubhouse. "I'm making my adjustments. You need to be careful who you listen to now. You can have too many hitting coaches at a time like this."

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimespugmire

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