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Mark Trumbo's dramatic homer lifts Angels past Texas, 2-1

Rookie's two-run shot in the ninth inning gives Angels a last-second reprieve from rivals sweeping four-game series. It also gives them hope going forward.

August 18, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna

Could one hooking line drive inside the left-field foul pole, one huge walk-off home run from a rookie first baseman in the middle of August, turn the Angels' season around?

That answer won't be known for another six weeks or so, but Mark Trumbo turned a week of dread into a night of hope Thursday with a thunderbolt of a two-run home run in the ninth inning to lift the Angels to a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers.

The Angels were blanked on four hits through the first eight innings, unable to put a dent in starter Colby Lewis, who allowed four hits and struck out seven in seven innings, and reliever Mark Lowed, who retired the side in order in the eighth.

But Torii Hunter opened the bottom of the ninth with a single to right-center to extend his hitting streak to 16 games, and up stepped Trumbo to face Mike Adams, the highly touted right-hander who was acquired from San Diego before the July 31 trade deadline.

Trumbo just missed a home run in the seventh inning, sending a drive deep but to the left of the pole in left field, but this time he banged a hanging slider fair and into the seats for his team-leading 23rd homer of the season and his second career walk-off shot.

Trumbo, who was mauled at home plate, said, "Hopefully this is going to propel a nice little run for us. We've been scuffling, and a lot of people are frustrated, myself included."

Trumbo's one big swing produced a two-game swing in the American League West standings. Instead of being eight games behind the Rangers, the Angels are now six games back, a formidable deficit, to be sure, but not as daunting as eight.

And instead of being swept in the critical four-game series by the Rangers, the Angels, who had lost seven of eight games and 51/2 games in the standings entering Thursday, salvaged the final game and, they hope, produced a moment they can build on.

"You never know," Angels ace Jered Weaver said, when asked whether Trumbo's hit could turn the season around. "Teams that win the World Series have momentum going into the playoffs. Hopefully this sparks us and gets us going."

Weaver rebounded from his worst start of the season, a 42/3-inning, eight-run, eight-hit, three-homer shellacking in Toronto last Saturday, to blank the Rangers on four hits through six innings Thursday night.

But when the right-hander tried to get a full-count fastball by his ex-teammate, former battery-mate and buddy in the seventh, Mike Napoli blasted it an estimated 426 feet to left-center field for a home run and a 1-0 Rangers lead.

Weaver stared down Napoli as he rounded the bases, and Napoli refused to look at the pitcher, but Weaver said this was different from that July 31 game in Detroit, when he fumed over the way Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen admired their home runs.

"It was friendly," Weaver said. "I was joking, more than anything."

Weaver departed after seven innings, having given up one run and six hits and striking out five for the no-decision.

Right-hander Bobby Cassevah, who has quietly produced a 1.32 earned-run average (three runs, 201/3 innings) over his last 12 appearances, allowed one hit in 12/3 scoreless innings, and left-hander Horacio Ramirez struck out Endy Chavez to end the top of the ninth.

Most of the Angels had never faced Adams, whose 1.12 ERA was the lowest relief ERA in the major leagues.

"I think we were pretty optimistic" in the ninth inning, Trumbo said. "I think the crowd really helps us here. Even if the odds are somewhat stacked against us, I think when that crowd gets going, you've got no choice but to get going."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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