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ANGELS

Josh Hamilton comes through twice in Angels' 5-4 victory over Athletics

Designated hitter ties the score with a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning and drives in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the 11th.

September 18, 2013|By Mike DiGiovanna

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OAKLAND -- Like the Angels, Josh Hamilton has been in season-salvaging mode for the last month or so.

The designated hitter gave his team some reason for hope Wednesday when he hit a tying, two-run home run against closer Grant Balfour in the ninth inning and a go-ahead sacrifice fly to left field against nemesis Jerry Blevins in the 11th to lead the Angels to a 5-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

The first four months of 2013 were a nightmare for Hamilton, who on Aug. 7 was hitting .217 with a .271 on-base percentage, .397 slugging percentage, 16 home runs, 51 runs batted in and 113 strikeouts.

BOX SCORE: Angels 5, Oakland 4, 11 inn.

But in 36 games since, Hamilton has a .328/.399/.526 slash line with five home runs and 21 RBIs to raise his average to .245. The Angels have won 19 of 26 games.

"No doubt, the first few months Josh was searching hard for a lot of things, and we've seen them come together in the last month," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "I hope it has the impact on Josh, for his confidence, that it should."

Hamilton is focusing on having good at-bats, swinging at good pitches and not worrying about results.

"It's a fine line between being aggressive and not feeling lazy, trying to find that happy medium," Hamilton said. "I'm doing a better job of that the past month. The biggest thing is having guys throw strikes. If I swing at balls out of the zone, guys are going to keep throwing them out of the zone."

As impressive as the home run that gave Balfour his third blown save was, Hamilton's 11th-inning sacrifice fly might have been bigger.

J.B. Shuck sparked the winning rally with a leadoff double to right field and third baseman Josh Donaldson bobbled Erick Aybar's bunt for an error.

Mike Trout popped to shallow right field, the runners holding, and on came Blevins to face Hamilton, who was 0 for 11 with seven strikeouts, including one with the bases loaded Tuesday night, against the reliever.

Blevins got ahead of Hamilton with two strikes, but Hamilton stayed back on a slow curve and drove it to left field for a sacrifice fly.

"He has a really slow curve, he throws it anywhere from 70-80 mph," Hamilton said of Blevins. "I swung through the second curve at 73 mph. I felt like he might try to throw one a little slower, so I didn't try to do anything at all with it besides get it to the outfield."

Ernesto Frieri retired the side in order in the 11th inning for his 35th save, capping a stellar relief effort in which Cory Rasmus, Buddy Boshers and Juan Gutierrez combined for four scoreless innings.

Trout hit his third home run in three games, a two-run shot in the first inning, and Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes hit two-run home runs against Angels left-hander Jason Vargas in the third.

Shuck also had a superb game in left field, making a strong throw from the gap to get Chris Young at second base in the second inning, a leaping grab of Young's drive to the wall in the fifth and a spectacular diving catch on the warning track of Derek Norris' drive in the eighth.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

Twitter: @MikeDiGiovanna

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