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Pujols’ 500th HR Helps Angels Beat Nationals

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Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim acknowledges the Washington crowd after hitting a two-run home run against the Washington Nationals in the fifth inning at Nationals Park on April 22, 2014 in Washington, D.C. The home run home was Albert Pujols' 500th. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim acknowledges the Washington crowd after hitting a two-run home run against the Washington Nationals in the fifth inning at Nationals Park on April 22, 2014 in Washington, D.C. The home run home was Albert Pujols’ 500th. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON — The errors are mounting for the Washington Nationals, up to 24 through 21 games so far.

The poor starts are accumulating as well: Washington’s pitchers have allowed at least three runs in the first inning five times already. They’ve given up at least two runs in the first a total of nine times.

With Taylor Jordan serving up Albert Pujols’ 499th and 500th homers, including one right after an error in the first inning, Washington lost to the Los Angeles Angels 7-2 Tuesday night to fall to 11-10.

“I’m baffled,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said when asked about all of his team’s defensive problems.

“It’s not what we want, for sure, but we can’t do anything but do what we’re doing and that’s work at it,” Williams added.

Jordan (0-3) has let at least three runs score in the opening inning of each of his last three starts. This game began with the right-hander allowing J.B. Shuck’s double. Then came the first of third baseman Anthony Rendon’s two throwing errors. And the evening’s third batter was Pujols, who hit a shot to left for homer No. 499.

The Angels wound up batting around in the inning and made it 4-0 on Chris Iannetta’s RBI single.

Washington never recovered.

“We don’t want to come from behind, that’s for sure. We’ve done it, but it’s not ideal,” Williams said. “Over the course of multiple games, or a whole season, it’s very difficult to come back that many times. And it wears on you a little bit.”

He said that Tuesday’s game would not make him decide to drop Jordan from the rotation in favor of Ross Detwiler, a first-round draft pick who has started in the past but is currently in the bullpen.

Asked about changing Detwiler’s role, Williams said: “Would we ever consider it? Of course … but not because of tonight.”

Pujols became the first player in major league history to hit homers 499 and 500 in the same game by connecting off Jordan in the fifth inning. 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,” Williams said. “I just wish he’d do it against somebody else.”

About three months past his 34th birthday, Pujols is 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 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.”

NOTES: Washington RHP Doug Fister threw 44 pitches in three innings at extended spring training in Florida on Tuesday, and Williams said the starter “felt good with everything.” Fister, acquired from Detroit in an offseason trade, went on the disabled list with a back muscle injury in spring training. The plan is for him to make his first of two minor league rehab starts Sunday and join the Nationals in early May. … The Nationals recalled RHP Aaron Barrett from Triple-A Syracuse.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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