ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Albert Pujols welcomed his new hitting coach to town with a go-ahead three-run homer and Vernon Wells added a two-run shot to lead the Los Angeles Angels to a 7-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.Jim Eppard was with the Angels for the first time as hitting coach after replacing Mickey Hatcher, who was unceremoniously dumped Tuesday night by new general manager Jerry DiPoto 1 12 months into Hatcher's 13th season on the job. The team's offensive struggles led to the firing, including Pujols' slow start after signing a 10-year, 240 million contract as a free agent.It was an easy transition for Eppard, who is in his 10th season in the organization and nurtured current Angels players Howie Kendrick, Kendrys Morales, Mark Trumbo, Erick Aybar, Peter Bourjos and Bobby Wilson as the hitting coach at Triple-A Salt Lake.Jerome Williams (4-1) won his fourth straight decision, allowing two runs and 10 hits over eight innings with five strikeouts and no walks. Last Friday at Texas, the right-hander relieved C.J. Wilson the night before his scheduled start because of a 56-minute rain delay - then gave up six runs and 11 hits in 6 2-3 innings without getting a decision because the Angels were already trailing in the first inning when he came in.Gavin Floyd (3-4) surrendered seven runs and 10 hits in six innings, including both home runs. The right-hander had allowed just one homer in 40 2-3 innings over his previous six starts after giving up three in his season debut at Texas.Trailing 2-1, the Angels grabbed a 4-2 lead with one swing by Pujols, who drove an 0-1 pitch over the center field fence after Mike Trout and Albert Callaspo opened the inning with singles.It was the 447th career homer and second this season for Pujols, the three-time NL MVP who ended the longest regular-season drought of his career after 33 games and 139 at-bats in the finale of the Angels' previous homestand. The Halos increased the margin to 7-2 in the sixth with Kendrick's sacrifice fly and Wells' sixth homer.The No.8 hitters for the Angels and White Sox each drove in their team's first run. Aybar opened the scoring in the second with an RBI double after a two-out walk to Wells, and Dayan Viciedo tied it in the third for the White Sox with a home run into the rock pile in left-center. Alejandro De Aza singled two batters after Viciedo's fifth homer and scored on Gordon Beckham's double.Notes: The White Sox were in mourning over the death of longtime pregame instructor Kevin Hickey, who died Wednesday at age 56 in Chicago after a lengthy illness. Hickey, who spent six seasons in the majors as a reliever for the Chisox and Baltimore Orioles, had been hospitalized since the day before the season opener in Arlington, Texas. "No one wanted to win more, no one was more optimistic, no one cared more and no one took more pride in his job," 1B Paul Konerko said. "Ask anyone in our clubhouse, every person who appreciated what Kevin did to help the White Sox win baseball games." ... With Hatcher's departure, the only coach left from manager Mike Scioscia's original staff in 2000 is 1B coach Alfredo Griffin. Joe Maddon, Bud Black and Ron Roenicke all left to become managers. ... During Hatcher's watch, the Angels set franchise records in 2009 for average, hits, home runs, runs scored, RBIs and average with runners in scoring position - and won a World Series title in 2002. ... All of Floyd's last six starts against AL West teams have been on the road (1-5, 4.35 ERA). ... One of the many Angels employees handing out Bourjos bobbleheads to the fans as they entered the ballpark was Bourjos himself - in full uniform. ... It was a rough night on the basepaths for Trout, who was picked off first by RHP Jesse Crain in the seventh and was thrown out by LF Viciedo when he tried to stretch a single into a double in the fifth.
The White Sox take on the Seattle Mariners on Thursday, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.
Thursday’s starting pitching matchup: Anthony Ranaudo vs. James Paxton
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James Shields allowed his fewest runs in a month on Wednesday night, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a loss.
Shields yielded two more home runs in six innings and his offense couldn’t keep pace as the White Sox lost to the Philadelphia Phillies 5-3 in front of 15,630 at U.S. Cellular Field. Shields gave up four earned runs and seven hits. Dioner Navarro homered in the loss, which snapped a three-game White Sox winning streak.
“We’ve seen better,” manager Robin Ventura said. “(Shields) got to two strikes, two outs and gave up a couple there and that’s tough. The homer to left, that’s just one you get in this ballpark. The biggest one, for him, mistake-wise was the homer to Joseph. I think that’s the one that he wants back. But as far as going out there and getting us to a point, he’s still got room to improve on. But he got through it.”
The six innings pitched marks the most by Shields since July 26.
In between, Shields allowed 28 runs (27 earned) and 33 hits in 14 innings over four turns, good for a 17.36 ERA.
He fell behind 3-0 by the third inning before he settled in and retired nine of 11 batters. The Phillies pieced together a two-out rally in the second inning to go up two runs as Tommy Joseph and Freddy Galvis doubled with an Aaron Altherr singled sandwiched in between.
Cesar Hernandez opened the third inning with a solo homer just inside the left-field foul pole.
Joseph also homered with two outs in the sixth inning to put Philadelphia ahead 4-0.
Shields has allowed 31 homers in 143 innings this season, including 22 in 75.2 innings for the White Sox. Eleven of those have come in his last four starts.
He walked none and struck out six.
“I think the only pitch I made a mistake on was that last one, the home run in the sixth inning there,” Shields said. “The ball kind of slipped out of my hand a little bit and kind of left it over the plate. Other than that I felt good with my location tonight. I was hitting my spots consistently. They were getting hits here and there. That’s part of it. One of the positives things, I didn’t walk anyone and I was getting some swings and misses. But we have to move on and move forward and build off that.”
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The White Sox didn’t have much success against Phillies starting pitcher Jerod Eickhoff, who retired the first nine batters he faced. Avisail Garcia led off the sixth inning with a single and Navarro belted a two-run homer to right to make it a 4-2 game.
Eickhoff limited the White Sox to two runs and four hits in six innings.
Garcia kept the White Sox alive with a two-out RBI single in the ninth inning. But Jeanmar Gomez retired Navarro with runners on the corners to end the threat.
“Until Dio hit the homer there wasn’t much going for us,” Ventura said. “We got one --- I think Adam was the one that breaks it up and gets it going. But (Eickoff) was tough on us. A great curveball. That’s the biggest thing that sticks out. When he got in trouble, that curveball was the pitch for us. After that, it just wasn’t a good night offensively. I don’t think we swung it that well.”
If all continues to go well, Miguel Gonzalez could pitch in a rehab start as soon as Friday.
On the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin, the White Sox starter said he felt good during a second bullpen session on Wednesday.
Gonzalez, who is 2-6 with a 4.05 ERA in 19 games (18 starts), threw 30 pitches. He previously threw a bullpen session on Friday and felt some discomfort the following day. But Gonzalez said he has made progress since he received treatment on Saturday.
“A lot better,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t feel anything while I was throwing my bullpen, which is great. I’m happy with the results today and come back tomorrow and we’ll see.”
Gonzalez left an Aug. 11 start at Kansas City in the bottom of the second inning. Though he wasn’t yet sure if he’d head out on a rehab assignment, Gonzalez said he was on the third day of a five-day schedule in which he was supposed to start. But it’s also possible the White Sox could have Gonzalez first throw a simulated game.
“We're going to have him go back out there again and do a little bit more, that looks more like starting in a game where he's going to throw for a little while, sit down, get back up,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Simulate some innings and hopefully after he does that a couple time he can go out for a rehab assignment.”