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Still without a HR, Pujols admits to pressing

NEW YORK — Albert Pujols is learning that hitting a baseball is tougher when the number attached to your name has a dollar sign.

After a weak opening week with the Angels, he has a contract ($240 million) more imposing than his batting average (.222). He has two RBIs.

"I'm a human," he said. "Sometimes you want to press a little bit and try to do too much."

Pujols went 1-for-4 Friday with a strikeout and a double-play grounder as the Angels lost to the Yankees 5-0. He is 6-for-27 and his only RBIs have come via a groundout and a single. For the first time since 2008, the three-time NL MVP is homerless in his first seven games.

"If this was the 17th day or the 20th day, then I'd say, all right, maybe there's something going on," OF Torii Hunter said. "But with Pujols, I'm not worried. The dude works hard, tries to figure out things, and he will."

Milestone for A-Rod: Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez, homerless in the first six games, hit his 630th homer and tied Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth on the career list. Rodriguez lined the first pitch of the third inning into the netting over monument park in center, tying him with Griffey, his former teammate in Seattle. "Griff is special to me because we came up together," Rodriguez said. "He was a teammate, he was a brother and a mentor all rolled in one. It was a special day for me."

Dodgers sale: A bankruptcy court judge in Delaware gave his approval to the Dodgers' plan to sell the team for $2 billion, allowing the team to exit bankruptcy. The reorganization plan is based on owner Frank McCourt's agreement to sell the team for $2 billion to Guggenheim Baseball Management. The sale is set to close by April 30, the day McCourt is to make a $131 million payment to former wife Jamie as part of their divorce.

nine K string: Dodgers pitcher Aaron Harang struck out nine straight Padres batters, setting a franchise record for one game. Harang topped Johnny Podres' club record of eight set against the Phillies on July 2, 1962. Hall of Fame Mets pitcher Tom Seaver set the major-league record with 10 to end the game against the Padres in April 22, 1970.

Quiet return for Marlins: For the first time since the furor over manager Ozzie Guillen's comments on Fidel Castro, the Marlins took the field in their new ballpark in Little Havana, opening a six-game homestand against Houston.

Arriving fans were greeted with salsa music and samples of mango smoothies. There was no sign of large group demonstrations as the crowd began to arrive. Still, some fans may have been protesting by staying away.

Others who attended were still angry that Guillen had said he loved and admired the former leader of Cuba.

The 36,442-seat ballpark was only half full when the game started but perhaps two-thirds full by the middle innings. Announced attendance was 30,169. The Marlins sold about 15,000 season tickets and have said they expect sellouts almost nightly.

Guillen was not there; he is serving a five-game suspension for his comments.

Nancy Azcuy, who came to the United States from Cuba 43 years ago, said she'll give up her season tickets if Guillen is back as manager next season.

"He earns a lot of money to be talking so much trash," she said. "A public figure has to think about what he says."

Braves: 3B Chipper Jones was scratched from the lineup before batting practice so he could have fluid drained from his left knee and did not play in his final home opener in Atlanta. His knee swelled during the flight from Houston on Wednesday.

Red Sox: OF Carl Crawford has been diagnosed by team doctors with a minor left elbow strain. The former Ray, already on the disabled list rehabbing from wrist surgery in January, said he strained the elbow while throwing.

Still without a HR, Pujols admits to pressing 04/13/12 [Last modified: Saturday, April 14, 2012 1:39am]

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