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Lady luck on Angels' side in win vs. Brewers

The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE -- Some saves are more notable than others.

Ernesto Frieri's 30th save of the season was definitely one of those notable ones.

Frieri won a 12-pitch battle to strike out Milwaukee's Jonathan Lucroy with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth inning, as he went on to save the Los Angeles Angels' 5-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers Sunday at Miller Park.

"He earned that one," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "That battle against Lucroy is about as good as you're going to see."

Frieri entered with the bases loaded after normally reliable set-up man Dane De La Rosa had trouble finding the plate. De La Rosa wrapped two walks around a Nori Aoki single to load the bases with one out.

Enter Frieri, called upon to face Lucroy, the Brewers' leader in RBI with 73.

Frieri got ahead with two strikes before Lucroy fouled the next pitch off. After a ball, Lucroy fouled off the next seven pitches, including a drive that was an inch or so foul down the right-field line on the eighth pitch and a grounder down the third-base line that was inches foul on the ninth pitch.

After two more fouls, Frieri finally got a 95-mph fastball past Lucroy for the second out on the 12th pitch. Frieri then struck out rookie cleanup hitter Khris Davis on three pitches.

"That's incredible," Scioscia said. "He just kept making pitches, and finally he just dotted fastball out there and got him. That's about as clutch as you can get."

Frieri closed the ninth by striking out Carlos Gomez and pinch-hitter Caleb Gindl, and getting Jeff Bianchi to fly to right. Frieri threw 26 pitches (23 strikes) to get the last five outs.

"He's one of the toughest players I've faced this year," Frieri said of Lucroy. "I threw good pitches and he fouled them off. Whenever he was looking for a pitch he put good contact on it. ... He's a fighter."

Lucroy wasn't as happy with his end of the battle, particularly the final pitch.

"It's the way the game is," Lucroy said. "It's baseball, things happen. Sometimes they fall, sometimes they don't. He didn't get me out, I got myself out. I swung at a ball, and I missed a couple of hangers. So I got myself out. I was not too happy about it, but it is what it is and you have to live with it."

J.B. Shuck's three-run double in the seventh gave the Angels a 4-3 lead, and Kole Calhoun tacked on an insurance run with a ground-rule double later in the inning.

The Angels (63-72) finished a three-game sweep in their first interleague series against the Brewers at Miller Park since 2002 to finish with an 8-1 road trip.

The Brewers (59-77) were coming off 4-2 road trip against NL Central contenders Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

C.J. Wilson (14-6) earned the victory, allowing just three hits and three runs (two earned) in six innings.

Brewers starter Kyle Lohse allowed six hits in the first 2 1/3 innings, but allowed just one over his final 3 2/3 innings and left with a 3-1 lead. Lohse left after 93 pitches, but his chance at victory was gone in another 15 pitches.

Michael Gonzalez allowed a single to Hank Conger leading off the seventh. Rob Wooten (3-1) took over and gave up a single to Luis Jimenez. Andrew Romine sacrificed the runners to second and third, and the Brewers elected to walk pinch-hitter Josh Hamilton.

Shuck ruined that strategy when his grounder down the first base line hit the bag and jumped over the glove of Yuniesky Betancourt. The ball then caromed off the wall into short right field, and all three runners scored.

After Erick Aybar struck out, Wooten intentionally walked Mike Trout. Kole Calhoun wrecked that strategy when he lined one to the gap in left-center that would have scored two more, but the ball one-hopped the fence for a ground-rule double that forced Trout to stop at third.

The Brewers took a 3-1 lead in the fourth on Gomez's 19th homer, but Wilson retired the next eight Brewers, and reliever Cory Rasmus worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning as the Angels came from behind.

De La Rosa struggled in the eighth, but Frieri was there to save the day. He did, however, have some good fortune on his side.

"Luck has a lot to do with this game," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "They load the bases and they hit a ground ball down first base, and it hits the bag and goes over our head.

"We get the bases loaded, 'Luc' hits a line drive down the right field line -- inches foul. Hard ground ball down the left field line -- inches foul. But we didn't hit the ball well today. Four hits, they definitely out-hit us, but it came down to a little bit of luck."

NOTES: Davis became the eighth player to bat cleanup for the team this season. Since being recalled on July 23, he is hitting .321 with eight homers and 29 RBIs in 29 games. ... Early in the season, Roenicke held back on putting younger players in key lineup spots. Injuries and other factors have changed his thinking. "Yeah, the options are just not there," Roenicke said. "If I had everybody here, Davis would not be hitting fourth right now." ... Wilson improved to 10-1 in his last 14 starts since June 14. In that span he has an ERA of 2.79. Wilson is 5-0 in his last nine interleague starts.
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