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Pujols, Angels have a blast; Slugger ends drought with first AL homer

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Albert Pujols circled the bases without showing much emotion after hitting his long-awaited first home run for the Los Angeles Angels -- same as he did 445 times with the St. Louis Cardinals.

But when he returned to the dugout, he had it all to himself. There was nobody home. No players, no coaches, no batboys.

Pujols' teammates gave him the old silent treatment, a plot hatched by Torii Hunter. They were all waiting for the slugger in the tunnel leading to the clubhouse. Then, a burst of euphoria and they were all back on the bench, high-fiving and slapping him all over his body.

The reception was fun for just about everyone after Pujols' two-run shot, which helped the Angels beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-3, Sunday to split a four-game series.

"I thought that would be cool. I always wanted to do that, and it worked," Hunter said. "I just said: 'Let's get off the bench and go to the tunnel.' He was excited about it and we were, too. We had to think fast. When I have a day off, man, I do stupid stuff."

Pujols connected in the fifth inning for his first AL homer. The three-time NL MVP had gone 33 games and 139 at-bats dating to last year without a home run in the regular season. He had a three-homer game for the Cardinals in the World Series and hit seven home runs in spring training.

"I don't think anything's been lifted off my shoulders, man," said Pujols, who did not come out for a curtain call. "I don't think about what you guys write or what you think. I know what I'm capable of doing, and I come out here every day and try to get myself ready for the game and give 110 percent to this team and to this organization. And if I do that, there's nothing to be sorry about."

Pujols drove a 2-2 pitch from right-hander Drew Hutchison (1-1) into the left-field bullpen. Mike Trout doubled one out before the home run, and Hutchison and catcher J.P. Arencibia had a conference on the mound right before the fateful pitch to Pujols.

"I didn't think about what they were going to throw me. I see the ball and hit it," Pujols said. "I've been doing that since I've played this game. This game is not about guessing, it's about making adjustments. Hopefully you get a good pitch to hit and you hit it.

Pujols homered in his 28th game and 111th at-bat with the Angels, who signed him to a 10-year, $240 million contract as a free agent in December, touching off a frenzy that resulted in more than 5,000 extra season tickets being sold. This was his first home run at Angel Stadium.

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