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MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Kendrys Morales pulls the switch on K.C.

Morales drove a first-pitch fastball over the left-field wall for a tying home run, and Torii Hunter's bases-loaded walk plated the go-ahead run, as the Angels came back for a 9-7 victory.

September 15, 2012|By Mike DiGiovanna

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Switch-hitter Kendrys Morales had a .290 average against right-handers and a .209 mark against lefties, so it was no surprise Friday night when Kansas City Manager Ned Yost summoned left-hander Tim Collins to face the pinch-hitter in the eighth inning with the Royals leading by two runs.

"It was the right move," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said.

Must have been the wrong time.

Morales, swinging from the right side, drove a first-pitch fastball over the left-field wall for a tying home run, and Torii Hunter's bases-loaded walk plated the go-ahead run, as the Angels came back for a 9-7 victory that moved them to within 2 1/2 games of the second American League wild-card spot.

"Let them still think it's the weakest swing I've got," Morales, who has 19 homers, five from the right side, said through an interpreter. The home run "got us back into the game. The energy changed. It was like a new breath for the team."

Mark Trumbo was aboard with a single before Morales' homer tied the score, 7-7. Mike Trout and Erick Aybar, who had four hits, followed with singles and Albert Pujols was hit by an 0-and-2 Collins pitch before Hunter's walk off right-hander Jeremy Jeffress.

The Angels have now won three games in three weeks when trailing after seven innings after winning one such game in their first 124 games. "It shows our fight, guys are wanting it," Hunter said. "We needed this one."

Hunter struck out with the bases loaded against right-hander Louis Coleman in the seventh, but he was more prepared for his eighth-inning at-bat.

"The at-bat before, I looked at the wrong scouting report," Hunter said. "That's the first time in my career that's happened. I thought his ball would sink. It cut."

The Royals took a 3-0 lead on solo homers by Billy Butler and Mike Moustakas off C.J. Wilson in the second and Jason Bourgeois' RBI single in the third, but Howie Kendrick's two-run double and Alberto Callaspo's two-out, two-run single in the fourth put the Angels ahead, 4-3.

Kendrick's error aided Kansas City's three-run sixth, which featured Jeff Francoeur's two-run homer off Garrett Richards that gave the Royals a 6-4 lead. The Angels scored in the seventh on Aybar's RBI double and the Royals on Alcides Escobar's RBI single.

Even with Stan

With his 475th homer Wednesday, Pujols tied Stan Musial, the former St. Louis Cardinals great, and Willie Stargell for 28th on baseball's all-time list.

Pujols, who played his first 11 seasons with the Cardinals, has a close relationship with Musial and has so much respect for him that he prefers not be called "El Hombre" because of the title Musial, known as Stan "the Man," holds.

"It's a privilege and an honor to have that connection with Stan," Pujols said. "At the same time, I don't play for milestones. My goal is to help this organization to win, and I believe that's what I'm doing."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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