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Kendrys Morales powers Angels to a win

The designated hitter hits his first home run in the majors since 2010 in a 6-0 victory over the Oakland A's. He collects three hits and drives in four runs.

April 16, 2012|By Lance Pugmire

Kendrys Morales completed his long road back between home runs Monday, hitting a three-run blast over the center field wall at Angel Stadium.

With the same left foot he once loudly stomped on home plate in a celebration that turned catastrophic 688 days earlier, Morales this time stepped lightly, where awaiting teammate Albert Pujols smacked him on the backside in congratulation.

"I'm very happy, it's been a long time," Morales said. "I never lost faith."

Morales also drove in a run with an eighth-inning double.

That, combined with six-plus scoreless innings from pitcher Jered Weaver who struck out six batters to reach 1,000, gave the Angels a 6-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

The home run was Morales' first in the regular season since May 29, 2010, when he hit a game-winning shot against Seattle and jumped high before crashing down amid a dogpile of teammates stunned by the collapse as Morales' left ankle fractured.

It took two surgeries, including a May 2011 operation to clean scar tissue and debris from the left ankle joint, and a delicate rehabilitation process to nurse Morales back to health.

"I know he feels good about contributing to a game," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "It was a good offensive night for us, and Kendrys led the way."

Now a designated hitter, Morales isn't the runner he was. He was thrown out in his second at-bat Monday trying to stretch a hit down the right-field line into a double.

The swing that produced 34 homers in 2009 remains potent, however, and Morales nearly added a second homer, in the fifth inning, when another deep fly to center field was caught by Coco Crisp at the top of the fence.

When he came to bat in the first inning, Morales saw teammates Pujols and Howie Kendrick at first base and third base after consecutive singles.

The moment had meaning.

Morales was hitless in nine at-bats in the Angels' three-game trip to Yankee Stadium, and the team with World Series hopes was in need of a lift to start this six-game homestand against Oakland and the Baltimore Orioles after starting the season 3-6.

On an 0-and-2 pitch from Brandon McCarthy, Morales struck the ball over a leaping Crisp.

Weaver amplified the good feelings by retiring the first 11 batters he faced with four strikeouts.

The right-hander with the best home earned-run average in the American League since 2006 had his perfection end when Josh Reddick hit an off-speed pitch to right field with two outs in the fourth inning. An infield single followed, but Weaver retired Kurt Suzuki on a groundout.

In the sixth inning, Weaver struck out Reddick for his 1,000th strikeout. He became the eighth Angel to accomplish the feat and joined brother Jeff as the sixth set of major league siblings to each have 1,000 strikeouts.

Weaver departed in the seventh inning after two Oakland singles and 105 pitches.

Kevin Jepsen retired No. 9 hitter Eric Sogard on a grounder to Kendrick at second base.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimespugmire

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