Napoli looks to ride the momentum from his game-winning home run and help the Angels improve the best interleague record in baseball as they close a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday in Phoenix.
Los Angeles (40-32) is averaging 6.2 runs and batting .298 against the NL, and it improved on both numbers with an 11-3 win over Colorado on Wednesday and a 12-3 victory over Arizona in the series opener Friday night.
The Angels, however, struggled at the plate Saturday, totaling six hits - none with runners in scoring position - and nine strikeouts. They went into the ninth inning tied 1-all before Napoli hit a one-out, 0-1 pitch from Chad Qualls(notes) 428 feet to center field to give them a 2-1 victory.
“I’m just glad I can help my team win,” said Napoli, who finished with three hits. “It was a key moment. It’s definitely exciting to do that, and get our closer in the game and try to close it out.”
Napoli has gone 12 for 24 with two homers, six RBIs and three runs scored to help the Angels to a 5-2 record in the last seven games. The catcher is batting .378 (14 for 37) in 10 games against the NL, part of the reason Los Angeles leads the majors with a 13-4 interleague record.
The Diamondbacks (30-45) have lost seven of eight to fall to 5-9 against the AL. Outfielder Justin Upton(notes) came into this series with a .449 interleague batting average in 2009, but he’s 0 for 7 against the Angels.
Upton will try to get back on track in support of Arizona starter Max Scherzer(notes) (5-4, 3.53 ERA). The right-hander has won three straight starts and posted a 1.46 ERA in four outings since he was tagged for a career-high eight runs in 3 2-3 innings of a loss to Atlanta on May 31.
Scherzer held Texas to two runs while striking out seven in six innings of an 8-2 victory Tuesday. The second-year player threw a career-high 119 pitches and admitted his arm was tired afterward.
Palmer suffered his first loss Monday, giving up a season-high six runs in 4 2-3 innings of an 11-1 defeat against Colorado. Forty-one of his 93 pitches were balls and he walked a season-high five.
“Matty gets out of sync a little bit and gets behind (in counts),” manager Mike Scioscia told the Angels’ official Web site. “There is not a pitcher in our league who can get behind 2-0 and 3-1 and be successful. It’s not Matty’s game. Matty’s game is movement and getting ahead.”
Palmer, a 30-year-old right-handed rookie, is making his first appearance against Arizona, which is 15-27 at home.