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Nine-run inning carries Angels to victory

The AL West leaders win their eighth game in a row.

July 26, 2009|BEN BOLCH

Some rally killer.

Chone Figgins has repeatedly described home runs as "rally killers" in recent weeks because he thinks the Angels are constructed for bigger innings with runners on base than with the bases empty.

So what did the third baseman think about his leadoff home run that triggered a nine-run outburst in the fourth inning Saturday afternoon at Angel Stadium?

"Well, I touched home plate, so that's what matters," Figgins said, smiling.

The Angels did plenty of that during an 11-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins that moved them a season-high 20 games over .500.

Thirteen batters went to the plate during a fourth inning in which the Angels accrued a season high for runs in an inning and tallied the most runs since they amassed 10 in an inning against Tampa Bay on July 26, 2006. Their 10 hits in the inning were one short of the franchise record they have achieved twice, most recently May 12, 1997, against the Chicago White Sox.

"Hitting is contagious and right now, everybody's got the rash," center fielder Torii Hunter said.

The Angels have averaged 7.2 runs in July and have exhibited no sign of a drop-off since Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero and Juan Rivera were sidelined because of injuries this month. Figgins said the team's ability to keep winning with help from bench players reminds him of the 2002 World Series championship team.

"The way we're interchanging players and guys are contributing . . . it's real close," said Figgins, who had two hits, stole three bases and scored three runs.

Winners of a season-high eight consecutive games, the Angels today will try to complete a four-game sweep of the Twins.

Saturday marked the Angels' eighth come-from-behind victory among their last nine home triumphs and their major league-leading 32nd comeback win this season. But there wasn't any late drama with the outcome virtually decided prior to the fifth inning.

Figgins' home run into the right-field seats was the first of five consecutive hits to open the fourth, and the Angels added five hits after Erick Aybar grounded into a double play.

"I was in awe," said Angels starter Matt Palmer (8-1), who pitched five serviceable innings in a spot start. "This team's amazing."

Figgins hit a run-scoring single the second time he came up and was one of three Angels to tally two hits in the inning against starter Nick Blackburn (8-5) and R.A. Dickey.

"I didn't expect to get nine runs, but it just kept going," Figgins said. "Once we get that pressure on, it never stops with us, and that's a good thing."

Maicer Izturis capped the onslaught with a three-run home run to right. After Kendry Morales flied out to end the inning, the fans showered the Angels with a standing ovation.

It was reminiscent of the 10-run seventh inning the Angels hung on the Twins in the clinching Game 5 of the 2002 American League Championship Series. Dickey emerged with this unsightly line: four hits and three runs given up in one-third of an inning.

Figgins still thinks rallies are best built without bases-clearing homers.

"So many times we have runners on first and third and second and third, and . . . it's a lot easier to hit like that," he said. "With the guys we have, everybody pretty much can run the bases and has decent speed, so ground balls on the infield are going to get out of double plays and score."

So how would he characterize his home run?

"That was a rally starter," he said. "That wasn't a killer."




A fine nine

A look at the Angels' nine-run fourth inning Saturday against Minnesota.

With Twins' Nick Blackburn pitching:

Chone Figgins: Homers to right.

Maicer Izturis: Doubles to right.

Bobby Abreu: Singles to deep right, Izturis scores.

Kendry Morales: Doubles to center, Abreu scores.

Mike Napoli: Singles to right, Morales to third.

Erick Aybar: Grounds into double play first to catcher, Morales out at home, Napoli to second.

Howie Kendrick: Singles to center, Napoli scores, Kendrick to second.

Gary Matthews Jr.: Walks.

With R.A. Dickey pitching:

Reggie Willits: Singles to left, Kendrick scores, Matthews to second.

Figgins: Singles to left, Matthews scores, Willits to third.

Izturis: Homers to right, Willits and Figgins score.

Abreu: Singles to center.

Morales: Flies out to left.

Totals: 9 runs, 10 hits, 0 errors.

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