Angels 9, Tigers 8, 10 innings
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—The Los Angeles Angels were upset and demoralized about blowing a seven-run lead and watching their All-Star closer surrender a go-ahead, two-run homer in the ninth inning.
It didn’t take long for their emotions to swing the other way.
A throwing error by reliever Todd Jones led to the winning run for the Angels, who came away with a 9-8, 10-inning victory Tuesday. They also needed a daring bit of baserunning by Vladimir Guerrero in the ninth, when he scored the tying run on a short wild pitch by the Tigers’ closer.
“When you jump out in front by seven runs, you obviously expect to win,” Angels center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. said. “You never want to see a game like that get away from you. We got the win, just in a different way than we expected. It would have been great to win it in nine, but what’s one more inning?”
Kendry Morales led off the 10th with a chopped single off the plate that Jones (0-1) fielded before throwing wildly past first base. Reggie Willits pinch ran for Morales at second, and Maicer Izturis was intentionally walked.
Jose Molina advanced the runners with the Angels’ first sacrifice bunt of the season, and the Tigers pulled the infield in. Second baseman Placido Polanco charged Erick Aybar’s slow bouncer and threw high to the plate, allowing Willits to slide across with the winning run on the fielder’s choice.
“It was good to see some of the younger players like Aybar step up and get a chance to come through in a situation like this and win this game for us,” Matthews said.
Dustin Moseley (2-0) got the final out in the 10th for the win.
It was the third time in the last five games that the Angels staked their starting pitcher to a 7-0 lead and needed Francisco Rodriguez in a save situation. Only this time, he failed.
Rodriguez relieved Scot Shields in the eighth with two outs and two on, and walked Polanco with the bases loaded to bring Detroit within a run.
Gary Sheffield doubled with one out in the ninth and stole third on the next pitch. Magglio Ordonez worked the count to 2-2 before driving K-Rod’s 32nd pitch of the game into the second tier of the left field bullpen for an 8-7 lead. The blown save was Rodriguez’s first in seven attempts.
“You have to try to work him,” Sheffield said. “He’s an aggressive pitcher, he gets his breaking balls over and he’s got the power fastball, so you have to stay on it. And his breaking ball is so good, you just have to pick one or the other.”
Jones, who turned 39 Tuesday, gave up a one-out double in the ninth to Guerrero—setting the stage for the right-hander’s second blown save in nine attempts.
“Vlad’s always aggressive, and you never know what you’re going to get from him when he’s running the bases,” Angels starter Kelvim Escobar said. “Today he was a great decision. That ball didn’t get very far from the catcher, but he had a good read and he made it in there safely.”
Escobar allowed four runs—three earned—and five hits over 5 2-3 innings in his return from the disabled list. The right-hander had been sidelined since April 9 with irritation in his shoulder.
Jeremy Bonderman allowed seven runs—five earned—and 11 hits in six innings while striking out eight. He became the first Tigers starter to open a season with five straight no-decisions since Brian Bohanon in 1995.
“I deserved to lose today, but it’s fun to be a part of this team because no one ever gives up,” Bonderman said. “I’m proud of the guys and how hard they fought to come back from 7-0. I mean, we could have easily given in. It’s impressive. We’ve got some of the best guys in baseball on our team, so it’s fun to watch them fight and never give up. It kind of reflects our manager.”
Jim Leyland’s club chased Escobar in the sixth with three runs, including a two-run single by Ivan Rodriguez that sliced the Angels’ lead to 7-4. Curtis Granderson got the Tigers a run closer in the seventh with a solo homer off Justin Speier.
Two fielding errors by shortstop Carlos Guillen led to a pair of unearned runs in the Angels’ four-run first, and they made it 6-0 in the second with Guerrero’s two-run single. At that point, pitching coach Chuck Hernandez came out to chat with Bonderman.
“I was getting so upset on the mound that I could have been out of the game right there. But Chuck came out and gave me one of the best speeches I ever had on the mound,” the right-hander said.
“He challenged me, and it was something I needed. He told me, `Good pitchers find a way to last in games.’ So it was nice to be able to stay in there for six innings, keep the score where it was and watch these guys chip away.”
Bonderman had not allowed an unintentional walk over a span of 31 1-3 innings until he walked Matthews leading off the sixth. … CF Tommy Murphy was optioned to the Angels’ Triple-A Salt Lake club to make room for Escobar.
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