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Angels' bullpen smooths out choppy Chicago ride

They get back-to-back wins for the first time since April as Trout drives in the key run against the White Sox.

May 11, 2013|Mike DiGiovanna

CHICAGO — The first four innings of Friday night's game were much like the Angels' late-night flight from Houston to Chicago, a white-knuckle ride through thunderstorms in which the team's charter was "rocking and dropping, the roughest flight I've ever been on," center fielder Mike Trout said.

One minute the Angels were up by four and looking as if they might blow out the Chicago White Sox on a chilly 40-degree evening, the next they gave up four in the fourth inning and the score was tied.

But the Angels found a smooth cruising altitude for the final five innings and rode it to a 7-5 victory in U.S. Cellular Field, with a bullpen that has endured its share of turbulence providing a soothing balm to Barry Enright's shaky start.

Relievers Mark Lowe, Michael Kohn, Dane De La Rosa and Ernesto Frieri retired 15 of 17 batters from the fifth inning on to help the Angels (13-22) win back-to-back games for the first time since a three-game sweep of Detroit on April 19-21.

Kohn threw a scoreless sixth, and De La Rosa retired the side in order in the seventh and eighth, the two minor league callu-ps boosting an injury plagued bullpen that entered Friday with a 4.24 earned-run average (12th in the American League) and had allowed 32 of 72 inherited runners to score.

Frieri, one night after his five-out save against the Astros, struck out three of four in the ninth for his sixth save.

"No doubt, from length to effectiveness, those guys stepped up big," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We had as good a bullpen performance as you can expect. We got a lead and held it."

Their first lead, they couldn't hold. The Angels scored four in the third, an inning sparked by Hank Conger's leadoff double and Brendan Harris' single.

J.B. Shuck hit a sacrifice fly, Trout singled, Albert Pujols hit a run-scoring double, Trout scoring on center fielder Alejandro De Aza's error, and Mark Trumbo hit an RBI single. Harris' second homer in two games, a solo shot to left-center, gave the Angels a 5-1 lead in the fourth.

But Enright, who retired nine in a row after giving up a homer to De Aza in the first, lost his rhythm in the fourth, a glacially slow half-inning in which he threw 31 pitches to five batters.

Chicago loaded the bases on Alex Rios' double and two walks. Conor Gillaspie fouled off four full-count pitches before taking a call third strike, but Rios scored on a wild pitch, and Dayan Viciedo lined a two-run double to left-center. Lowe got Alexei Ramirez to ground out, but Tyler Flowers hit an RBI single to make it 5-5.

The Angels broke the tie with two runs in the seventh, an inning aided by Gillaspie's error on Conger's grounder to third. Shuck's single advanced Conger to third, Trout hit an RBI single that moved Shuck to third, and Shuck got a great jump on a passed ball and dived headfirst into the plate for another run.


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