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Nationals 5, Angels 4

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals took advantage of the Los Angeles Angels' shaky bullpen, scoring four times in the ninth inning to pull off a stunning 5-4 victory on Wednesday to avoid a three-game sweep.

Adam LaRoche lined a single to left off Fernando Salas, scoring Jayson Werth from second base as the Nationals poured out of the dugout to celebrate an unlikely victory.

After Mike Trout's ninth-inning single gave the Angels a 4-1 lead, it looked as if Los Angeles would win its sixth straight against Washington.

But closer Ernesto Frieri imploded, giving up a solo home run to Jose Lobaton to open the bottom of the ninth. After striking out pinch hitter Zach Walters, Frieri gave up a single to Denard Span and a walk to Anthony Rendon. Werth then doubled down the line, the carom off the side wall allowing Rendon to score from first.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia pulled Frieri, but Salas didn't fare any better, as LaRoche served his first pitch for the game winner.

Trailing 1-0 in a pitcher's duel between Gio Gonzalez and Jered Weaver, the Angels opened the sixth with a walk by Mike Trout. With Trout breaking for second, Albert Pujols hammered a ball down the left field line and the speedy Trout just beat the throw from Bryce Harper to tie the score. It was Pujols' 19th RBI in 14 games.

One batter later, Erick Aybar followed with an RBI single off reliever Aaron Barrett to score Pujols and give Los Angeles a 2-1 advantage.

David Freese broke an 0-for-13 skid with a double in the seventh for the Angels, and he later scored on a wild pitch to seemingly provide an insurance run.

Weaver went six solid innings, scattering seven hits while striking out two. Gonzalez had a brief five-plus innings of work despite tossing just 83 pitches.

Both Gonzalez and Weaver were successful in extricating themselves from tough situations early in the game.

The Angels loaded the bases in the first inning, after a double from Trout, a single by Pujols and a walk to Howie Kendrick. But Gonzalez was able to induce a liner to short from Aybar, doubling up Pujols to end the threat.

The Nationals manufactured a run in the second, with Danny Espinosa reaching on an infield single, stealing second and moving to third on a groundout, setting the stage for Gonzalez to help his own cause. The pitcher blooped a single over short for his second hit and RBI of the season to give Washington a 1-0 edge.

Gonzalez had another chance to drive in a run in the fourth, with runners on first and third, but Weaver was able to induce him into a harmless grounder to short to end the frame.

NOTES: After 1B Albert Pujols hit his 500th home run on Tuesday, he said he only got "three or four" hours of sleep while receiving congratulatory calls and texts from friends and family, including fellow slugger Boston Red Sox DH David Ortiz. He added that his family, not the Hall of Fame, will get the first crack at his souvenirs from the historic game. ... Washington manager Matt Williams admitted his team isn't quite as sharp as he'd like, even as it hovers around .500. "I don't think we've put it together yet," he said. ... The Angels have an off-day Thursday before starting a three-game set in New York. The Nationals host a four-game series against San Diego starting Thursday.
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