Erick Aybar singled home the winning run in the 10th and Jose Molina drove in two runs, leading the Angels to a 4-3 victory on Sunday and a three-game sweep that kept them eight games ahead of the pack in the AL West.
“Every guy in here has the ability to step up and get the job done, and as we’ve seen lately, everybody’s been contributing to all the wins,” second baseman Howie Kendrick said. “That’s one great thing about our organization. Even the guys who aren’t everyday players, when they get spot starts they get the job done.”
Pirates closer Matt Capps (3-4), working his second inning of relief, gave up a one-out double to Kendrick before intentionally walking Kendry Morales. Gary Matthews Jr., who did not start the game because of tightness in his left hamstring, batted for Molina and flied out on the next pitch.
Aybar, starting at shortstop while Orlando Cabrera was used as the DH, lined a 1-0 pitch into the right field corner that bounced over the short fence, giving the AL West leaders their fourth straight victory.
“I think Matthews was a little overanxious and swung at a pitch up and out of the zone and something he really couldn’t do a whole lot with,” Capps said. “That was big, getting him out, but I fell behind Aybar 1-0 and I didn’t want to fall behind 2-0. I was trying to go low and away and I just missed over the plate.”
Chris Bootcheck (2-1) picked up the win by pitching a scoreless 10th inning.
On Friday night, Cabrera ended the game in the 11th with an RBI single that bounced over the short fence in the left field corner, but didn’t bother to touch second before the celebration began.
“We played two very good baseball games in this series against arguably the best team in baseball and took them to extra innings both times,” Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. “We did everything we could do today.”
Pittsburgh has lost five in a row, matching its longest skid this season.
Josh Phelps, making his Pirates debut as a DH after getting claimed off waivers from the Yankees on Friday, singled his first two times up. But when he came up in the seventh with the bases loaded and Pittsburgh trailing 3-2, he looked at a called third strike from Scot Shields for the third out.
Shields pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, but closer Francisco Rodriguez gave up the tying run in the ninth and was charged with his second blown save in 24 attempts this season. The right-hander retired his first two batters before walking Adam LaRoche. Pinch-runner Rajai Davis advanced to third on two wild pitches with Xavier Nady at the plate, and Nady lined a 3-1 pitch to left field to score Davis.
“Frankie’s been lights-out all year, but in that situation he left a breaking ball out over the plate and the guy put a good swing on it,” Kendrick said. “But this is a team. So regardless of whether the save might have been blown there, we had to step up.”
The Pirates managed only one run in the fifth despite loading the bases with none out. After Jason Bay looked at a third strike, Jack Wilson scored when Bartolo Colon walked LaRoche on a borderline pitch that plate umpire Alfonso Marquez said missed the inside corner.
Colon showed no emotion after the pitch, but pounded the pocket of his glove with his fist after turning Nady’s comebacker into an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play.
“I wasn’t celebrating the double play,” Colon said through a translator. “I was ticked off about the pitch that I missed on (to LaRoche). That was a pitch that I really wanted. I had nothing to do with the umpire, but my release point made me miss by a couple of inches and it cost me that pitch.”
Colon allowed two runs, seven hits and a season-high four walks while striking out six in his 300th career start. Pittsburgh lefty Tom Gorzalanny allowed three runs and seven hits over six innings in his first career appearance against the Angels.
After the game, the Pirates optioned RHP Jonah Bayliss to Triple-A Indianapolis. A corresponding roster most won’t be made until Tuesday. … Rodriguez’s other blown save was April 24 against Detroit, when he surrendered a two-run homer to Magglio Ordonez in the ninth inning. The Angels puled out a 9-8 victory in the 10th. K-Rod came into this one having converted 44 of his previous 46 save opportunities. … Just before the bases-loaded walk to LaRoche, third base coach Jeff Cox held up Wilson on a single by Freddy Sanchez. Only one baserunner Cox has waived home this season has been thrown out. Another was retired after running through his stop sign. … The Pirates are 13-for-56 with the bases-loaded. Nady entered the game 4-for-6 in those situations.