ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — A few minutes after Mike Trout and Albert Pujols combined on the Los Angeles Angels’ tying eighth-inning rally, one bad fastball by Ernesto Frieri undid his teammates’ work yet again.
Brian Roberts hit a tiebreaking homer in the ninth inning, and the New York Yankees beat the Angels 4-3 Tuesday night for just their second victory in seven games.
Roberts connected with two outs against Frieri (0-3), putting his first homer with his new club into the elevated right field stands. The improbable shot by a light-hitting second baseman killed the buzz at Angel Stadium after Trout tripled and scored the tying run on Pujols’ two-out single in the eighth.
Los Angeles dropped back to .500 again at 16-16, but manager Mike Scioscia is more focused on the Angels’ resilience without injured sluggers Josh Hamilton and David Freese.
“(Frieri) just made one mistake tonight,” Scioscia said. “He just yanked one pitch to Roberts, but give Roberts credit. He was ready for it.”
Pujols’ single off Shawn Kelley (1-2) drove in Trout for the Angels, who had won five of seven on their nine-game homestand. Frieri lost his job as the Angels’ closer last month, but had retired all nine batters he faced on this homestand until Roberts’ homer.
“Everybody knew that I was throwing a fastball,” Frieri said. “I’m good, man. I won’t get crazy. I don’t want to get used to this because I know I’m way better than what I’ve been doing lately. I’ve got to learn from this, learn from the mistakes and get better.”
Erick Aybar and Trout drove in runs with consecutive sacrifice flies in the third inning for the Angels, but their combustible bullpen let them down again after eight solid innings by C.J. Wilson.
Los Angeles dropped to 2-8 in one-run games this season, and the Angels have blown leads in 12 of their 16 losses, the highest percentage in baseball.
After the game, the ball was nestled in the locker of the longtime Baltimore infielder.
“Never hit a homer in any other uniform, so I’ll take it home,” said Roberts, who also had an early RBI single. “I feel like I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable. Sometimes, some things just click. It’s been nice to get something going a little bit.”
Alfonso Soriano had a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning, and David Robertson pitched the ninth for his fifth save in an all-around encouraging effort by the Yankees.
Hiroki Kuroda had his longest and best start of the season, allowing just one earned run and not walking a batter while striking out eight in 7 2-3 innings. The Japanese right-hander is winless in four starts, but he largely shut down the Angels.
“When Kuroda pitched the way he did, you need to win those games,” Roberts said.
The Angels couldn’t reward Wilson, who yielded seven hits and struck out five in just his second non-winning start since April 1.
Wilson hit Derek Jeter with a pitch to open the eighth, and Carlos Beltran’s seeing-eye grounder up the middle sent Jeter to third. Jeter was tagged out after Mark Teixeira’s grounder, but Soriano’s single to left easily scored Beltran.
“This is a lineup that typically goes up there and swings for damage,” Wilson said of the Yankees. “But today they made a concerted effort to put the ball in play and make contact. I didn’t have a lot of strikeouts because they were just fighting pitches off and stuff. They did a really good job of that.”
Trout snapped an 0-for-12 skid with a two-out triple off the top of the right-field wall in the eighth, barely missing a tying homer. Trout has never gone more than 14 at-bats without a hit in his major league career, but he had something close to a slump when he struck out on a pitch in the dirt to end the fifth, stranding two runners.
NOTES: Angels 2B Grant Green was scratched shortly before game time when he jammed his ring finger on his left hand in workouts. … Jeter was serenaded with chants of his name and a standing ovation for the second straight night of his final regular-season series at the Big A. He reached base three times, getting the Yankees’ first hit in the third inning. … Wilson has thrown at least 111 pitches in all seven of his starts this season.