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Angels have enough firepower for the Royals

They finish off a three-game sweep of Kansas City and are 9-1 since Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero went on the disabled list.

July 23, 2009|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

KANSAS CITY, MO. — Their "big guns," as shortstop Erick Aybar called them -- Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero and Juan Rivera -- remain sidelined, and still, the Angels are loaded for bear.

They spotted the woeful Kansas City Royals a four-run lead Wednesday night before storming back with two runs in the seventh inning and five in the eighth for a 9-6 victory in Kauffman Stadium, their fifth straight win and ninth in 10 games.

Maicer Izturis drove in four runs, Mike Napoli hit a tying two-run home run, and Chone Figgins hit a tie-breaking two-run double, as the Angels (55-38) notched their major league-leading 30th comeback win and eighth from a deficit of at least four runs.

Justin Speier, Kevin Jepsen and Brian Fuentes combined for 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, Fuentes notching his major league-leading 30th save to become only the second left-hander to record 30 saves in both leagues. The other was Randy Myers.

"When one guy struggles, others step up, and that's what makes us a great team," said pitcher Joe Saunders, one of the few Angels who struggled Wednesday. "It's very encouraging from a pitching standpoint because we're never out of a game. We get runners on and boom, we get the big hit. You can't ever count us out."

In the 10 games the Angels have played since Hunter and Guerrero went on the disabled list, they are 9-1 and have scored 77 runs. Rivera missed six of those games because of a tight hamstring.

"We have such an athletic team," Figgins said, "we can create runs in a lot of ways."

Wednesday they used patience and power to add even more misery to a Kansas City team that has lost nine straight, 23 of 31 and sees no relief in sight.

The Royals blew three eighth-inning leads and were swept by Tampa Bay over the weekend, prompting this bullpen-bashing headline in Monday's Kansas City Star: Ocho Stinko.

Just when they thought things couldn't get any worse . . .

The Angels trimmed a 6-2 deficit to 6-4 in the seventh when Howie Kendrick hit a two-out, solo home run, Reggie Willits and Figgins singled, and Izturis, who hit a two-run homer in the third, hit an RBI single.

Kendry Morales opened the eighth with a double off left-hander John Bale, extending his hit streak to 20 games, and Napoli greeted right-hander Roman Colon with a two-run, opposite-field home run to right that tied the score, 6-6.

"He has as much raw power as anyone in the game," Manager Mike Scioscia said of Napoli. "To be able to hit that pitch as high and far to right field is impressive."

Aybar grounded out, but Gary Matthews Jr. walked. On came right-hander Jamey Wright, who walked Kendrick and Willits to load the bases.

A seemingly desperate Royals Manager Trey Hillman summoned closer Joakim Soria, who has a 1.75 earned-run average, but Figgins poked a two-run double to left-center for an 8-6 lead. Izturis' sacrifice fly made it 9-6.

The rally took Saunders, who gave up six runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings, off the hook but not out of the woods. Saunders kept the Royals in the park, something of an achievement considering the left-hander allowed 12 home runs in his previous seven starts.

But Kansas City found just about every other blade of grass in the place, peppering Saunders for eight singles, four in a three-run fifth that featured Mark Teahen's two-out, two-run single and Ryan Freel's bloop RBI single.

Saunders was 5-1 with a 2.66 ERA in his first seven starts; he is 3-5 with a 6.34 ERA in his last 13 starts and hasn't won a game since June 24.

"I made my pitches, and they put it in play where we weren't in some key situations," Saunders said. "But I feel great, and I'm going to stay positive. My next outing, I'm going to turn things around."


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