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Pujols hits two 3-run HRs, helps streaking Angels beat Rangers

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Albert Pujols hit a pair of three-run homers and the Los Angeles Angels remained unbeaten since the All-Star break with their season-best fifth straight victory, 8-6 over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.

Pujols connected in the fourth and fifth innings against Kyle Lohse (0-2) for his second multi-homer game in three days, driving in six runs for the first time since 2009.

He propelled the Angels (42-52) to their ninth win in 11 games overall. Pujols even stayed in the game in the seventh inning when Texas reliever Tony Barnette hit him in the helmet, apparently accidentally.

Pujols’ homers were the 578th and 579th of his career, pulling him closer to Mark McGwire (583) for 10th place on baseball’s career list.

Robinson Chirinos hit two early homers for the AL West-leading Rangers, who have lost six of seven.

Tim Lincecum (2-3) had seven strikeouts while winning for the second time in his six starts for the Angels, yielding nine hits and five runs in five innings. Huston Street pitched the ninth for his eighth save – his first since June 14.

Jett Bandy also homered and drove in two runs for the Angels.

One night after the Angels came back from four runs down to beat Texas, they erased an early three-run deficit in the fourth inning with one swing from Pujols.

After Elvis Andrus doubled home the go-ahead run for Texas in the fifth, Pujols put the Angels back ahead with another three-run shot, completing the 54th multi-homer game of his career. Pujols drove in Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout with both of his shots.

Barnette then hit Pujols in the helmet with a 92-mph fastball in the seventh. The reliever appeared to apologize profusely to Pujols, who dusted himself off and ran the bases.

Ian Desmond hit a 462-foot homer, had three hits and reached base four times for the struggling Rangers.

Lohse yielded six hits and seven runs in his second start for Texas before Pujols chased him with the second homer.

Desmond kept it close with his 17th homer in the sixth. Bandy replied with his third homer in the sixth.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.