Bell, Pirates hope to batter Angels again

Josh Bell is suddenly rediscovering his power stroke.

After enduring a 26-game homerless drought, the All-Star slugger has hammered three in two games as he leads the Pittsburgh Pirates into a Tuesday game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif.

Bell was one of four Pirates to go deep Monday in a 10-2 win during the opener of the three-game series. The victory was just Pittsburgh's fifth in 29 games since the All-Star break and also ended the Pirates' eight-game skid.

The switch-hitting Bell has 95 RBI -- tied with Atlanta's Freddie Freeman for most in the major leagues -- as he continues his career-best season despite the club's woes. He broke his power outage with two blasts Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals, but the Pirates dropped an 11-9 decision.

Jacob Stallings, Kevin Newman and Bryan Reynolds also homered for Pittsburgh on Monday. Stallings added a two-run double.

"Stallings has made so many great contributions to our ballclub," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said after the victory. "He's been trending up for a while. He's trusting his swing. He's confident. He knows what he wants to hit, and he gets the ball in the air."

Pirates center fielder Starling Marte went 3-for-5 in the series opener after being hitless in eight at-bats with four strikeouts over the previous two games.

Pittsburgh's offensive onslaught resulted in the Angels' 13th loss in 17 games. Los Angeles showed signs of breaking out of the slump with back-to-back wins in Boston over the weekend, but the Angels fell behind 6-0 in the first three innings on Monday and never countered with a charge.

Star center fielder Mike Trout has five homers in the past 11 games but is hitless in six at-bats over the past two contests. Trout leads the American League with 39 homers and 92 RBI.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles first baseman Albert Pujols is struggling. The 39-year-old veteran was hitless in four at-bats in the opener and is just 2-for-19 (.105) in his past six appearances.

Pujols also committed a first-inning throwing error that allowed two runs to score in a three-run frame. Angels rookie third baseman Matt Thaiss made two fielding errors over the first two innings.

"He is new to the position; he just started playing it a few months ago," Angels manager Brad Ausmus said afterward of Thaiss, who had been a first baseman prior to this season. "Those things are going to happen."

Pirates right-hander Trevor Williams (4-5, 5.06 ERA) will oppose Angels righty Griffin Canning (4-6, 4.76) on Tuesday.

Williams was torched for six runs and eight hits over five innings while losing 8-3 to the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday in his most recent turn.

The 27-year-old is 1/3 with a 6.35 ERA over his past five outings. He has served up eight homers while allowing 22 runs (20 earned) over 28 1/3 innings during the stretch.

Williams has given up 14 blasts over his past nine starts after allowing just three in his first eight outings.

Williams, who has never faced the Angels, is 2/3 with a 4.17 ERA in nine road starts this season.

Canning will be activated from the 10-day injured list prior to Tuesday's game to make his 16th start of the season. He has been sidelined since Aug. 1 due to right elbow inflammation.

The 23-year-old rookie gave up four hits in six shutout innings while beating the Detroit Tigers on July 30 before landing on the IL.

Canning is 3-2 with a 4.17 ERA in nine home appearances (eight starts). He will oppose the Pirates for the first time in his career.

--Field Level Media
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