Tony Gwynn & Jeff Passan: These teams turn it around
CHICAGO (AP)—The Los Angeles Angels’ dry spell ended on a rainy night in Chicago.
The Angels scored a season-high six runs in the top of the ninth and ended a three-game losing streak with a 12-5 win over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.
“That was huge for us,” Tim Salmon said. “It just seems like we were waiting from them to take it from us. … The floodgates kind of opened after that. Maybe a collective sigh of relief as a group.”
Garret Anderson hit a three-run double, Juan Rivera drove in three runs and the Los Angeles Angels scored a season high in runs. The Angels led 6-5 before exploding for a season-high six runs off four White Sox relievers.
“Eventually guys are going to do the things they’re capable of doing,” Anderson said. “It was just good to see guys do what they’re capable of.”
The Angels battered the White Sox bullpen in the ninth as rain fell on U.S. Cellular Field. Salmon had an RBI single, Rivera a two-run double, Robb Quinlan an RBI double and Jose Molina a two-run homer, his first of the season. Los Angeles had managed only three runs and 11 hits in its three previous games, all losses.
“The whole game on the offensive side was important,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “It was good to break out and get a little distance against a terrific bullpen.”
The Angels won for only the third time in their last 13 games. They had lost eight straight to the White Sox, dating to last season’s AL championship series. Chicago swept a three-game in Anaheim last month and beat the Angels 9-1 on Tuesday.
Santana retired the first 11 batters, striking out five in that span, and had a no-hitter going until A.J. Pierzynski’s ground-rule double in the fifth. One out later, Santana hit Juan Uribe and gave up a three-run homer to Brian Anderson.
“I’ve been practicing in the bullpen keeping the ball down and throwing first pitch strikes,” Santana said. “In the game I tried to do that. I’m very happy with my performance today.”
The Angels took a 4-0 lead in the third, finding the solution to their recent anemic offense: rookie knuckleballer Charlie Haeger.
Haeger (0-1) had a rough start in his major league debut for the White Sox, giving up six runs and five hits with six walks in 4 1-3 innings. He got off to a shaky beginning, walking three in a 29-pitch first inning. He managed to escape unscathed thanks to a double-play grounder by Vladimir Guerrero.
“Is there an approach against a knuckleballer?” Salmon said. “I think everybody, the hitter, the catcher, the umpire, they were all struggling back there.”
Haeger struck out Adam Kennedy to lead off the third inning but Kennedy made it to first on a passed ball. Haeger then walked Chone Figgins and Orlando Cabrera and Kennedy scored on Guerrero’s single off a diving Joe Crede’s glove. Garret Anderson cleared the bases with a double to right.
“You don’t know what to expect with a knuckleballer,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “It can be real good or it can be real ugly. I think this kid threw a couple good innings. In the beginning of the game you could see he was rushing and his stuff wasn’t there.”
Haeger left in the fifth after giving up a walk and three singles. Salmon and Rivera each knocked in runs in the inning. He was sent back down to Triple-A after the game, spending less than a day in the majors.
“Call it what you want, first-game jitters, I guess,” Haeger said. “I was just quick out there. I felt fast.”
Haeger, 3-0 with a 0.68 ERA for Triple-A Charlotte, was called up before Wednesday’s game to start in place of Contreras, who went on the disabled list with sciatica in his right leg.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen still believes that Kelvim Escobar hit Pierzynski on purpose when the teams met in Anaheim last month. Escobar denies he did it intentionally. “He does whatever he wants to do, but do I think he hit him on purpose? Yes,” Guillen said. Escobar denied any wrongdoing. “I’m going to pitch my game so I don’t want to worry about that stuff,” he said. … The Angels had been hitting just .199 in the first seven games of their road trip (2-5) and were outscored 34-17.