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Bloop hit helps Angels edge Phillies

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Aug 14 2014 01:28:21 AM CDT
Updated On: Aug 14 2014 01:28:22 AM CDT

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Angels might not be able to hit their way out of a wet paper bag these days, but they did just enough when they needed to and relied on their pitching staff to beat the Philadelphia Phillies for the second day in a row.

Howie Kendrick's bloop single to shallow right field with the bases loaded was perfectly placed on the right field line, driving in two runs during a three-run sixth inning and lifting the Angels to a 4-3 win Wednesday night at Angel Stadium.

The Angels gained a game on the American League West-leading Oakland A's, who lost 3-0 to the Kansas City Royals. Los Angeles (70-49) is 2 1/2 games back.

The Angels managed just six hits against Phillies starter A.J. Burnett and two Phillies relievers, but starter Jered Weaver and the Los Angeles bullpen, once given a lead, locked it down.

"I don't know if our offense has to be as hot as it was for the 20 games before the All-Star break, but there has to be some middle ground from where we were then to where we are now," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Keeping our heads just above water since the All-Star break has been purely our pitching staff and primarily our bullpen. At some point, we have to give our pitchers a little breathing room."

Weaver gave up two runs on eight hits and two walks in six innings before handing the ball over to the bullpen for the final three innings.

Kevin Jepsen (seventh inning), Joe Smith (eighth) and Huston Street (ninth) combined to finish it off. Smith gave up a run, but Street earned his 31st save of the season, his seventh with the Angels.

"Our job as pitchers is to keep this offense in the game and give us a chance to win," Weaver said. "And with the bullpen we've got, quality starts from the starting pitcher are pretty key. If you can limit those guys to three runs in six innings, we've got those guys coming in behind us doing a heck of a job. Just trying to keep us in it, and you know the offense is going to break through one of these days."

The Los Angeles hitters broke through in the sixth, sort of, getting a little help from Burnett.

First baseman Albert Pujols got the rally started with a one-out double. Left fielder Josh Hamilton was hit by a pitch, and shortstop Erick Aybar walked, loading the bases for Kendrick.

The second baseman muscled an inside pitch into shallow right field, with the ball landing on the foul line.

"The walk actually ended up to be the winning run," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "The hit-by-pitch, the walk, the bloop hit, the fielder's choice ... a crooked number in the sixth, two nights in a row.

"(Burnett) is just not making the opposition earn their baserunners. And sometimes when those add up with a hit or two, they find a way to score."

Though the Angels did not pound the ball, they put together good situational at-bats. Designated hitter Brennan Boesch finished hitless, but he drove in two runs with a sacrifice fly and a fielder's choice grounder.

The Phillies had 11 hits, including three by catcher Carlos Ruiz. They had chances but went 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine.

"We had baserunners, we out-hit them 11-6, we had some baserunners but were not able to come up with the big bat to put up a crooked number," Sandberg said. "I attribute that to some good pitching. Weaver mixed speeds real well, added a little on, took a little off."

The Angels took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Aybar led off with a double. Kendrick sacrificed Aybar to third, and Boesch drove him in with a sacrifice fly.

The Phillies (53-68) got even at 1-1 in the third inning. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins led off with a single, stole second and third and scored on a single by designated hitter Marlon Byrd.

Philadelphia took a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning. Ruiz led off with a single and scored on a two-out single by Rollins.

NOTES: Phillies 1B Ryan Howard, 2B Chase Utley and SS Jimmy Rollins started together for the 893rd regular-season game. It is the most by a trio at those positions for the same team in major league history. They broke the record of 886 games previously held by Los Angeles Dodgers 1B Steve Garvey, 2B Davey Lopes and SS Bill Russell. ... Angels RHP Kevin Jepsen leads the majors with 54 scoreless appearances in 58 outings. After giving up five runs on Opening Day, Jepsen allowed five runs total in his next 57 outings. ... Utley has 11 hits in his past 21 at-bats with runners in scoring position (.524). Overall, he is hitting .308 (37-for-120) with RISP this season after he popped out with a man on second in the seventh inning Wednesday.