For a second it seemed like Ernesto Frieri was in Cleveland all over again.
After serving up a walk-off grand slam last week, the former closer nearly blew another outing before Joe Smith performed damage control, securing Los Angeles’ 6-4 victory over Minnesota Thursday afternoon. The Angels win sixth straight for the first time since 2004.
Jered Weaver pitches seven solid innings en route to his first win since June 6. The Angels’ ace yielded eight hits-all singles- and struck out six while improving to 7-0 lifetime against the Twins. He struck out the side on 12 pitches in the first and rarely struggled from that point on, allowing a sole run in the sixth.
An offense averaging 5.8 runs per game on the homestand gave Weaver (8-6) more than enough to work with. Albert Pujols went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs, raising his batting average to .262. He drove Kole Calhoun home with a first-inning single and scored on Erick Aybar’s ground-rule double.
The Machine’s third-inning extra-base hit placed his name along a major league legend. Pujols’ RBI double off Southern California native Ricky Nolasco (4-6) was the 541st of his career, tying him with Cardinals great Rogers Hornsby for 30th all-time.
Five of seven Angels’ starters had multi-hit games, including Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout. Trout’s been on a tear over the last 10 games with 14 hits, four home runs, and a .389 batting average. In the seventh, he doubled in Efren Navarro and Kole Calhoun for his team-leading 57th and 58th RBIs.
Cory Rasmus tossed a scoreless eight and Frieri was called upon in a non-save situation. Twins third baseman Eduardo Escobar reached on a one-out single and Jorge Polanco followed with a walk. After Frieri loaded the bases with a second free pass, perennial All-Star Joe Mauer looped an off-speed pitch down the left field line. All three runners scored and Frieri was replaced by Smith, who earned his seventh save of the season.
Former Halo Kendrys Morales struck out on four pitches and the Angels completed a perfect homestand. They move to within 3 ½ games of idle Oakland in preparation of a six-game road trip.