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The Grand Slam: Albert Pujols' late homer turns game around for Angels

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Those anxious to write off Albert Pujols will have to take another step back after the Los Angeles Angels slugger delievered a game-changing home run on Wednesday afternoon. After the Toronto Blue Jays grabbed a one run lead in the sixth inning, Pujols answered one inning later with two-run home run that just eluded the outstretched glove of Colby Rasmus and bounced off the top of the center-field fence to give Los Angeles an 8-7 lead, which would be the game's final score

The home run was Pujols' 20th homer of the season and 512th of his career, tying him with Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews for 21st place all-time. And more importantly to Angels starter C.J. Wilson, it's the one that helped fans forget his fourth inning exit after allowing four runs.

''The curious thing was that they had the righty warmed up, and Albert hit that home run off a lefty. So we were like, 'Oh, awesome. They're leaving him in to face Albert,' and he came up with a huge homer,'' Wilson said. ''So it was great for us. We have a tenacious team, and the nature of our clubhouse is that we always believe that it's going to happen.''

One possible reason that Blue Jays manager John Gibbons stuck with lefty Aaron Loup - he hadn't allowed a home run in 43 1/3 innings before the Pujols at-bat. He trusted him to make a good pitch, but the future Hall of Famer was one step ahead. As a result, the Angels are now 3 1/2 back in the AL West.

SCHERZER OUTDUELS GREINKE IN DETROIT: After a wild game on Tuesday night, right-handers Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke did their thing on Wednesday afternoon, engaging in a pitching duel that was ultimately won by Detroit, 4-1. Scherzer pitched seven innings of one-run ball to improve his record to 11-3. He struck out seven and allowed only four hits. Greinke allowed three runs over seven innings. He struck out eight.

Granted, it was a shorthanded lineup that Greinke faced this time around. Miguel Cabrera was out of the lineup for his first planned off day of the season, while Victor Martinez remained sidelined with soreness in his side. He's expected to sit out until the All-Star break. Austin Jackson helped pick up the slack with a double and triple out of the leadoff spot, which led to two Tigers' runs. Ian Kinsler, Don Kelly, Nick Castellanos and Torii Hunter each drove in one run.

Scherzer made the output stand up by completely shutting down the middle of the Dodgers order. Their 3-8 batters went hitless in 16 at-bats against the AL Cy Young Award winner.

GOOD AS GOLDSCHMIDT: The Arizona Diamondbacks don't have a lot of firepower, but the one scenario opponents should hope to avoid is facing Paul Goldschmidt with the game on the line. Unfortunately for the Miami Marlins, that's exactly what they faced on Wednesday, and it ultimately led to their demise as Arizona's All-Star delivered a walkoff two-run double to give the Diamomdbacks a 4-3 victory in 10 innings.

Miami actually grabbed a 3-1 lead in the top of the inning on Donovan Solano's two-run double, but Arizona battled right back in the bottom half. Aaron Hill started the rally with a pinch-hit single following a nine-pitch battle against closer Steve Cishek. Ender Inciarte following with a single and then David Peralta singled to set the stage for Goldschmidt's heroics.

''He's had to be real patient,'' Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. ''He got up there in a situation where they had to throw to him, and he really stung it.''

Goldschmidt said he was just trying to get the tying run home from third.

''You've got a guy at third and nobody out, a chance to tie the game,'' he said. ''You just try to put the ball in play. You're trying to hit it hard, but I just tried to remind myself there's a lot of ways to score that guy. You try not to put too much pressure on yourself.''

Goldschmidt's hit capped a wild ending to what had been a very well pitched game. Both starters, Nathan Eovaldi for Miami and Josh Collmenter for Arizona, allowed one run over seven innings.

BREWERS LOSING GRIP IN NL CENTRAL: The All-Star break can't come fast enough for the Milwaukee Brewers, and once it does, it's entirely possible first place in the NL Central will belong to someone else. After falling 4-1 to the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday, they've lost four in a row and their lead in the division is down to two games over the surging St. Louis Cardinals, who were 5-2 victors against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  They'll go for a four-game series sweep on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Reds are now 2 1/2 games back following their 4-1 win over the Cubs. Alfredo Simon became the NL's first 12-game winner with 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball. 

For the rest of Wednesday's results, check out our scoreboard.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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