With the AL's worst team out of town, the Los Angeles Angels got back in the win column against one of the NL's bottom feeders.
Giving the ball to red-hot Jason Vargas should put them in good position to start a winning streak.
Vargas will try to win his career-best sixth straight decision Wednesday night when the Angels look to complete a two-game sweep of the visiting Chicago Cubs .
Los Angeles (26-33) had won 10 of 12, including six in a row at home, before getting swept by a Houston team that was 20 games below .500 heading into that four-game series.
The Angels, though, took a positive step following that embarrassing showing Tuesday when Albert Pujols hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning of a 4-3 victory that snapped the four-game skid.
Los Angeles is hoping the home run - his first in 11 games - can get Pujols on a hot streak. The three-time MVP had been 3 for 21 with one extra-base hit in his previous six games."Numbers-wise, it's nowhere where I want to be. But I feel like I'm one swing away from turning things around," said Pujols, who is hitting .244 with nine homers and 35 RBIs.
Now Pujols will try to help the Angels wrap up their eight-game homestand with a .500 record behind Vargas (5-3, 3.34 ERA).
After going 0-3 with a 4.85 ERA in five starts during April, the left-hander went 5-0 with a 2.30 ERA in his six starts in May - all Los Angeles victories."I faced Vargas for years when he was with Seattle, and you know what you're going to get," said second baseman Howie Kendrick , who is 6 for 11 in his last three games. "I mean, the guy finds a way to get it done."
Vargas is 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA in four career starts against the Cubs, though he hasn't faced them since 2010 while with Seattle.
David DeJesus , who is hitless in nine career at-bats against Vargas, is batting .195 in his last 11 games overall.
Teammate Starlin Castro hopes to break out of his own funk, going 1 for 19 over his last five contests.
Tuesday's defeat included another dismal performance by a Chicago (23-33) bullpen that has two losses, two blown saves and a 13.50 ERA during the team's three-game losing streak.
Scheduled starter Matt Garza (1-0, 3.38) will try to eliminate the bullpen from the equation as he makes his fourth start since coming off the disabled list with a strained back muscle.
The right-hander earned his first victory since July 15 when he allowed two runs and six hits over seven innings to beat Arizona 7-2 Friday at Wrigley Field."I'm pumped to get it out of the way," Garza said.
Garza, who spent his first five seasons in the AL, has given up 10 runs and 13 hits - four homers - over 11 innings in two career starts in Anaheim.
He's limited Josh Hamilton to two hits in 15 career at-bats, while Pujols is 2 for 9 in their matchups.
Alberto Callaspo is 5 for 34 (.147) over his last 11 games, but has four hits - including a homer - in six at-bats against Garza.
The third baseman will have to clean up his defense after his fourth error in three games led to a pair of unearned runs Tuesday.
|May 27, 2013||Kyuji Fujikawa||60-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|May 27, 2013||Rafael Dolis||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|May 26, 2013||Kyuji Fujikawa||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right forearm strain|
|May 22, 2013||Shawn Camp||15-Day DL||Sprained right big toe|
|April 14, 2013||Steve Clevenger||60-Day DL||Left oblique strain|
|April 13, 2013||Steve Clevenger||Day-to-Day||Left oblique injury|
|Los Angeles Angels|
|June 02, 2013||Garrett Richards||Day-to-Day||Left game - Ankle injury|
|May 28, 2013||Josh Hamilton||Day-to-Day||Back spasms|
|May 27, 2013||Sean Burnett||15-Day DL||Left elbow inflammation|
|May 26, 2013||Sean Burnett||Day-to-Day||Left game - Forearm tightness|
|May 21, 2013||Erick Aybar||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee soreness|
|April 30, 2013||Peter Bourjos||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Anthony Rizzo grounded out to first base in each of his first four plate appearances. Then he finally got a hit his next time up, and did even better in his final at-bat.
Rizzo had a bases-clearing double in the 10th inning and the Chicago Cubs overcame a pair of homers by Mark Trumbo to beat the Los Angeles Angels 8-6 on Wednesday night.
"I want to be in that situation," Rizzo said. "They made good pitches on me today, but I was able to get the big hit at the end. Even when you're feeling down at the plate, it takes one pitch, one at-bat, one swing. So that's what you've got to go by."
Rookie Robert Coello (3-2) walked Dioner Navarro with one out in the Cubs' 10th and Darwin Barney singled with two outs. Barney advanced on catcher's indifference and Luis Valbuena walked before Rizzo doubled into the right-field corner, increasing his team-high total to 39 RBIs.
"I faced him a few times before in the minor leagues, so I know that's what he likes to do - throw the fastball in that spot," Rizzo said. "He has a splitty, too, but I know he doesn't like to throw that with runners on. So I looked for the fastball and tried to lay off everything else."
Cody Ransom connected for a three-run homer for Chicago, and center fielder Ryan Sweeney made a spectacular catch against Albert Pujols in the seventh with the Cubs clinging to 5-4 lead.
Trumbo tied it at 5 in the eighth with a mammoth leadoff drive to right-center against James Russell , and added his team-high 15th of the season in the 10th. Howie Kendrick homered and had four hits for the Angels, who have lost seven of 10 following an eight-game winning streak.
"We put up a pretty good effort today, and that's what you want to see," Trumbo said. "Unfortunately, they were just a little better."
Kevin Gregg (2-0) pitched the final 1 1-3 innings for the victory against his former team. He struck out Hank Conger swinging with two runners on to end the game.
Mike Trout had a chance to win it for the Angels in the ninth, but Gregg came in and struck him out with a runner at third.
Matt Garza pitched 6 1-3 innings for the Cubs in his fourth start off the disabled list and allowed four runs and seven hits. He benefited from a video replay reversal in the second after J.B. Shuck's towering drive past the right-field pole was originally called a home run by first base umpire Jeff Nelson .
Shuck came up against Garza again with one out in the seventh and hit a fly ball to the warning track that was dropped by Nate Schierholtz , who had just taken over in right field for Scott Hairston after hitting for him.
"Nate's a great outfielder and makes every play, so we honestly weren't expecting that. But it happens," Ransom said. "You look at the good teams through history, and they pick up a guy when something like that happens. Good teams win games like that, and we've been missing that."
Shuck ended up at third on the error, but was stranded there when Sweeney sprinted toward right-center and robbed Pujols of a potential two-run double with runners at the corners. Sweeney was making only his third start in center while David DeJesus got the day off.
"I feel comfortable out there," Sweeney said. "I didn't think I could get that ball at first, but I knew obviously the importance of that run on third base, so I just ran all out to see if I could get it and I caught it right before it hit the ground."
Angels lefty Jason Vargas gave up five runs and 11 hits in five-plus innings. He was making his first start since he was picked as the AL pitcher of the month because of his 5-0 record and 2.30 ERA in May.
Vargas had a 4-1 lead into the fifth before Navarro and Barney singled and Ransom drove his fifth homer of the season into the lower seats in the left field corner to tie it.
"The difference was the homer to Cody Ransom . That's what got them going," Vargas said. "I feel like I made a dumb mistake. We're up three runs and I decide to go after him like it was a pretty close ballgame. Three runs isn't a huge lead, but it was definitely a mental mistake on my part. Just go ahead and go after him and make him beat us the hard way. I left a changeup up to him and that really let them back in the ballgame. I feel like that cost us the game."
NOTES: Ransom's previous six home runs all were solo shots. ... The Angels are going back to a regular five-man rotation. RHP Jerome Williams is the odd man out because he is better suited to a relief role than either Tommy Hanson or Joe Blanton . ... Kendrick was 7 for 8 in this two-game set, and is 12 for 22 lifetime against Cubs pitching. ... The Angels begin a six-game road trip Friday night at Boston, trying to extend an eight-game winning streak against the Red Sox.