Napoli hits game-winning homer for Angels
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Mike Napoli couldn’t remember ever hitting a game-winning homer in the bottom of the ninth, even when he was a kid. So he really enjoyed the first one.
“It was a great feeling,” Napoli said Friday night after his teammates mobbed him after his two-out, two-run homer gave the Los Angeles Angels a 5-3 win over Seattle. “I’d never done that before. I was just trying to get a pitch to drive to the gap.”
“I knew if I got the ball in the gap, he could score from first because he can fly,” Napoli said.
Instead, he hit a 3-1 pitch from Batista deep over the fence in left, a drive that started the crowd cheering wildly almost as soon as the ball left the bat.
That gave Napoli four RBIs for the game, including a sacrifice fly in the seventh that tied it 3-3, after he singled in Los Angeles’ second run in the second inning.
While the homer gave Los Angeles the win, manager Mike Scioscia seemed just as impressed by Napoli’s two earlier RBIs.
“I really liked the sacrifice fly. He shortened up and hit a really tough pitch,” Scioscia said. “And on his (broken-bat single), he got jammed but got just enough of it to get it over the infield.”
Jose Arredondo (8-2) pitched a perfect ninth for the victory.
Although they wrapped up the AL West on Wednesday, the Angels still want to secure home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs. Their 90-57 record is baseball’s best.
“Just because we’ve clinched doesn’t mean we’re going to lie down,” Napoli said. “We’re all excited, but we’ve still got a lot of baseball to play.”
Los Angeles closer Francisco Rodriguez, not needed this time, still has 15 games remaining to try to rewrite the major league single-season saves record. He got his 57th in Thursday night’s 7-4 win over Seattle to match Bobby Thigpen’s record set in 1990. Rodriguez had moved within one of the mark when he pitched the ninth of the Angels’ AL West-clinching victory over the New York Yankees the previous day.
Angels right fielder Vladimir Guerrero left the game after four innings because of soreness in his right knee. Scioscia said he took him out as a precaution and may let him rest for a couple of days.
Adrian Beltre had two hits and drove in two runs for Seattle as he extended his hitting streak to 15 games, the longest active streak in the majors.
After Beltre doubled home a run in the first, Quinlan’s RBI triple and a Napoli’s run-scoring single gave Los Angeles a 2-1 lead in the second.
Saunders allowed three runs and eight hits in seven innings. Rowland-Smith gave up three runs on four hits in 6 1-3 innings.
Seattle manager Jim Riggleman said Rowland-Smith pitched well.
“He really gave us every chance. I hated to have had to take him out when I did,” Riggleman said. “Napoli had a good night. He got the sac fly and then got the big home run. He can juice the ball.”
Los Angeles CF Torii Hunter missed his third consecutive game, sitting out the first two to serve a suspension for a scuffle with New York Yankees catcher Ivan Rodriguez, and this one to rest a sore quadriceps muscle. … Beltre, playing despite needing surgery on the torn ligament in left thumb, is batting .452 (28-for-62) with 13 RBIs during his current streak.
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