(SportsNetwork.com) - Albert Pujols didn't homer in Monday's opener against the Washington Nationals, but the veteran did help the Los Angeles Angels rally for a victory.
The slugging first baseman will try to lead the Angels to another victory on Tuesday night in the middle contest of a three-game set with the Nationals.
Much of the focus of Monday's opener was on the matchup between two of the youngest stars in the game: Los Angeles' Mike Trout and Bryce Harper of Washington.
However, it was the 34-year-old Pujols and 41-year-old Raul Ibanez that keyed the Angels in the 4-2 win.
Held without a run through the first seven innings, Pujols began the eighth frame by reaching base on shortstop Ian Desmond's eighth error of the season. Pujols then stole second and moved to third on Howie Kendrick's infield single.
Following Brennan Boesch's pop out, Aybar plated Pujols for the game-tying run with a single to right and after Chris Iannetta drew a walk to load the bases, a pinch-hitting Ibanez cleared the bases with a double to left center.
"Everybody likes being up in that spot," Ibanez said. "That's what you play for, that's what you compete for -- to try to be up in that spot -- since you were a kid in the backyard playing."
Desmond tried to atone for his error with a lead off homer in the ninth inning, but Ernesto Frieri settled down to secure his second save of the campaign.
The Angels snapped a two-game slide even though Pujols remained stuck on 498 career home runs. He is two shy of becoming the 26th player in Major League history to reach the 500-homer mark.
Desmond, meanwhile, was charged with two errors in Monday's loss and also is hitting just .234 through 20 games.
"I'm not making the plays," Desmond said of his defense this season. "I'm a big-league shortstop, it's not that tough."
Washington fell to 2-3 on an 11-game homestand as Harper went 0-for-3 with a walk.
Trout had two hits in five at-bats.
The Angels go for the series win tonight behind lefty Tyler Skaggs, who has logged a pair of no-decisions since winning his Los Angeles debut back on April 5.
Skaggs beat Houston on that day after allowing just one unearned run over eight innings, but has since yielded four runs in both of his no-decisions, though the Angels won both.
That includes Wednesday's 5-4 decision over Oakland as the 22-year-old Skaggs logged six innings.
Washington goes with 25-year-old Taylor Jordan, who has been roughed up in two straight losses.
Jordan gave up five runs over five innings at Atlanta on April 12, then allowed seven runs -- five earned -- over 5 1/3 frames of an 8-0 setback to St. Louis on Thursday.
The right-hander has never before faced the Angels, while Skaggs will be facing the Nats for the first time as well.
The Angels have won four straight and six of the last seven meetings with the Nationals, including a three-game sweep at home in the previous encounter during the 2011 campaign.