Ninth-Inning Sac Fly Lifts Angels Over Twins

By Jose Serrano

Sep 4, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Los Angeles Angels shortstop Erick Aybar (2) congratulates center fielder Mike Trout (27) after scoring in the fourth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels’ hero Thursday night wasn’t your typical household name.

It wasn’t Albert Pujols, who snapped a 0-for-16 skid with an eighth-inning single, or Mike Trout whose batting average has dipped .06 points since Aug. 27.

September call-up Tony Campana made his debut count. The journeyman minor leaguer pinch-ran for David Freese in the ninth and scored headfirst on Chris Iannetta’s sharp lineout to left field, giving the Halos a 5-4 win over Minnesota.

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“I think that’s why Tony is here,” Manager Mike Scioscia said in a post-game interview on Fox Sports West. “We have some speed we can insert into the lineup and tonight it worked out, and we managed to manufacture a run in the ninth inning.”

A four-run fourth broke Los Angeles’ nine-inning scoreless streak. Three consecutive Angels notched hits, beginning with Howie Kendrick’s two-RBI double and ending with Freese’s RBI single to left field. In between Erick Aybar recorded his 18th hit over the last 19 games, raising his batting average to .286 in the span.

Hector Santiago weaved in-and-out of trouble through his first five innings before allowing a game-tying homer in the sixth. Jason Grilli stood in the bullpen ready to reliever Santiago, but Scioscia chose to stay with the left-hander who subsequently left a changeup in Eduardo Nunez’s wheelhouse.

Minnesota’s eight hits were the most Santiago has given up all season, and four earned runs were the most he’s allowed since July 5. Santiago has only lost once since being recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake in early June.

Huston Street’s 36th save sealed a Major League-leading 84th victory. The Angels also pick up half a game on idle Oakland to stretch their American League West lead to five games.

Josh Hamilton exited in the eight after sliding his right hand awkwardly into first base. Scioscia said it’s a linger condition from the Houston series but wouldn’t commit to Hamilton playing tomorrow.