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Angels rally for three in ninth to stun Cardinals

The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Angels waited until the late going before ensuring their fans had a happy holiday.

Erick Aybar singled with one out in the ninth inning, capping a three-run rally and lifting the Angels to a 6-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night at Angel Stadium.

Edward Mujica, who entered the game in search of his 22nd save in 22 opportunities, blew the lead and took the loss.

Josh Hamilton was the big spoiler, turning a 1-0 pitch into a two-run home run off Mujica (0-1) to center field to tie the score. Albert Pujols started the inning with a single on the last pitch from Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright.

"It was just a good feeling to hear that sound come off your bat," Hamilton said. "Most of the time, you know. So I figured it had a good chance when I hit it.

"It couldn't happen on a better day for the crowd on the Fourth of July. They got a little more fireworks and a little more bang for their buck than they thought they were going to get. It was cool. Anytime you can contribute like that, especially in the late innings and have a comeback like that, it's a pretty special feeling."

Howie Kendrick followed Hamilton's homer with a single, and Mark Trumbo's hit moved Kendrick to third. After Mujica retired the next two batters, Aybar's base hit to left ended the game.

Scott Downs (2-2) pitched a scoreless ninth inning to record the win.

Wainwright tried to take the blame since he gave up the rally-starting hit to Pujols.

"That's what happens when you let a leadoff guy get on in the last inning," he said. "That's on me, right there. I have to get that guy out.

"I tried to get it down and away right there. He was creeping in on the plate a little bit. I made a good pitch. It was exactly what I was trying to do, and I broke his bat. He's a great hitter for a reason."

Mujica, however, said he was responsible for the loss. Twice, he shook off catcher Yadier Molina's calls and got burned.

"I made two big mistakes," Mujica said. "I didn't follow Yadier on a couple of pitches, and that was the ballgame. He called for a fastball on Hamilton, and I threw the changeup.

"On Aybar, he called for a fastball again, and I decided to throw my changeup."

Mujica used his changeup to get Alberto Callaspo and Hank Conger out.

"I threw a couple of good changeups and got two popups, so I figured I'd go with my best pitch," Mujica said. "I've always followed Yadier. From now on, I'll just go with Yadier. (Thursday) was the first time that I did that. Big mistake."

St. Louis took a 4-3 lead on Matt Carpenter's sacrifice fly in the fifth inning, and the Cardinals added an unearned run in the sixth.

Angels starter Joe Blanton was in line to pick up his 11th loss in 13 decisions this year, but he was saved from that fate. Blanton was in a groove early, recording five strikeouts through three shutout innings. He wasn't nearly as effective, however, during the Cardinals' second trip through the batting order.

With Los Angeles ahead 2-0, Carlos Beltran singled to start the fourth inning, and Matt Holliday followed with a walk. Allen Craig then gave the Cardinals their first lead with a three-run home run to center.

The Angels countered with Mark Trumbo's 19th home run of the season in the fourth inning to tie the score at 3.

Carpenter broke the tie in the fifth. In the sixth, a two-out error by Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo kept the inning alive. Trumbo mishandled Matt Adams' grounder, and David Freese followed with a single. Daniel Descalso's single scored Adams with the insurance run and ended Blanton's night. Blanton allowed five runs (four earned) in 5 2/3 innings.

The Angels jumped on top 2-0 thanks to Mike Trout's two-run single in the third.

NOTES: Cardinals SS Pete Kozma hasn't had a hit in five games (0-for-17) so he sat out Thursday's contest. Manager Mike Matheny wants him to take a couple of days to work on his swing before returning to his spot. ... Craig, who was born in nearby Mission Viejo, Calif., went 5-for-9 in the three-game series. ... Though Blanton was 1-2 with two no-decisions last month, June was by far his best month of the season. He logged 40 strikeouts while walking only five batters in June. ... Angels RHP Michael Kohn, who missed the 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, has not allowed a run in 22 of his past 24 appearances. He threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings Thursday.
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