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ANGELS FYI

Angels hold on to defeat the A's, 6-4

September 19, 2008|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

OAKLAND -- Francisco Rodriguez notched his 205th save Thursday to finish a 6-4 victory over the Athletics at McAfee Coliseum, but for the first time ever, the Angels closer did not punctuate a save by pointing both arms to the sky to salute his late grandfather.

This one probably wasn't worth celebrating much.

The Angels began the bottom of the ninth inning with a 6-0 lead thanks to Joe Saunders' seven shutout innings, in which he threw only 87 pitches, and consecutive seventh-inning home runs by Kendry Morales, Mike Napoli and Brandon Wood, the Angels' first back-to-back-to-back homers in four years.

But relievers Jason Bulger and Jose Arredondo combined to create a save situation, Bulger hitting Chris Denorfia with a pitch and walking Bobby Crosby to open the ninth and Arredondo walking Cliff Pennington and giving up an RBI single to Carlos Gonzalez.

Arredondo struck out pinch-hitter Travis Buck for the first out, and with the tying run in the on-deck circle, Manager Mike Scioscia summoned Rodriguez, who blew a save Wednesday night with a throwing error that allowed the tying and winning runs to score.

Rodriguez walked Jack Cust to force in a run, and Aaron Cunningham hit into a run-scoring fielder's choice to make it 6-3. Kurt Suzuki's RBI single to center made it 6-4.

Rodriguez finally got pinch-hitter Ryan Sweeney to ground to second for his 59th save, extending the record he set Saturday, but there were no fist pumps, no pointing toward the heavens.

"I hope my grandfather is not mad at me," Rodriguez said.

"I was so upset with myself. I got the job done, but the way I threw [Wednesday] and today, I'm not real happy."

Could Rodriguez, who set a major league record with his 66th save opportunity Thursday, be suffering from a little fatigue?

"No, everything is there, I'm just not making the pitches in the right place, with the right movement," Rodriguez said.

"But trust me, I'll be ready to go in the playoffs."

Quality start

Saunders improved to 16-7 with an efficient outing in which he gave up six hits and struck out four. The left-hander helped his own cause by starting two double plays on grounders hit to the mound, and he escaped a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the fourth.

Pennington hit a grounder to third baseman Robb Quinlan, who stepped on the bag for an out and fired home to Napoli, who put the tag on Emil Brown for the double play.

Saunders struck out Jack Hannahan to end the inning.

Right fielder Gary Matthews Jr., whose ninth-inning throwing error Wednesday helped the A's two-run, game-winning rally, backed Saunders with a superb diving catch of Pennington's second-inning flare down the line. He also had three hits.

"We're still trying to get the best record and home-field advantage in the playoffs," Saunders said. "Every win is important."

Short hops

The last three Angels to hit three straight home runs in a game were Vladimir Guerrero, Jose Guillen and Jeff DaVanon on May 24, 2004, at Toronto. . . . Guerrero (irritation in right knee) sat out his fifth consecutive game, and Juan Rivera (tight right hip) sat out his third straight game, but Scioscia said both are expected back by tonight or Saturday. . . . Dustin Moseley will start Saturday in Texas.

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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