Halos' late rally bests Twins in extras
Napoli, Abreu carrry offense with clutch homers
MINNEAPOLIS -- After the booming bats of Mike Napoli and Bobby Abreu propped them up and gave them life, the Angels took over the Metrodome and staged a singles party in the 11th inning on Friday night.
The Twins and their fans didn't seem to care much for it.
Scoring six times on six singles and two walks against three Twins relievers, the Angels seized an 11-5 victory to snap Minnesota's winning streak at four games while extending their own streak to a modest three games.
"Once we get runners on," Chone Figgins, the catalyst, said, "things seem to happen for us."
A leadoff walk by Erick Aybar in the 11th against Bobby Keppel (0-1 with the loss) set in motion a series of movements that silenced the Dome and its 31,767 customers.
Aybar's free pass was followed by consecutive singles by Gary Matthews Jr., pinch-hitter Howard Kendrick, Figgins, Maicer Izturis and Bobby Abreu.
Mathews' hit-and-run single to center field sent Aybar to third and got the party rolling. After shortstop Brendan Harris lost his footing on Kendrick's infield hit, Figgins greeted Jesse Crain with a bunt single. Izturis' single to center delivered a run, and Abreu followed with a two-run bullet to right for his third hit.
Crain departed after walking Juan Rivera, and Kendry Morales slashed an RBI single to right against R.A. Dickey. Aybar's infield out produced the final run after Napoli -- who singled twice, doubled and homered his first four times at bat -- struck out.
"I don't want the home run right there [in the 11th]," said Figgins, who loves the energy of singles parties. "But I liked 'em when Bobby and Nap hit 'em."
The Angels pounded out 19 hits and were 6-for-17 with runners in scoring position after starting the night 1-for-9.
"Look at their lineup," Crain said. "Everyone is close to hitting .300. They don't just do that because they are lucky. They know how to hit.
"They've got those little guys like Izturis, who took a pitch the other way. I don't think I'd change anything on that pitch. They are a tough team, and they showed why they are in first place and why they're around every year."
Abreu drove in four runs to lift his team RBI lead to 72. Napoli matched his career high with four hits, his towering homer in the eighth against Matt Guerrier tying it at 5.
Kevin Jepsen (3-2) claimed the win as the Angels' bullpen shut down the Twins for five innings.
"Our bullpen kept us in the game," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "They gave us five zeros.
"Kevin Jepsen, I can't say enough for the job he did. He went through the top of their order [in the ninth] and the heart of their order [in the 10th]. Those are six huge outs."
Jepsen struck out three hitters in his two innings after Justin Speier and Jason Bulger had kept the Twins -- who scored all of their runs in the third and fourth innings against Ervin Santana -- in check.
Darren Oliver finished the job with a perfect 11th.
Santana felt good about his work, in spite of the unimpressive numbers (six innings, five earned runs, eight hits, six strikeouts). Only one pitch left a bad taste -- a 91-mph fastball Joe Mauer sent over the barrier in right center for three runs and a Twins lead in the third.
"One bad pitch," Santana said. "The first hitter [Alexi Casilla] walked and then a base-hit [by Denard Span]. I left a fastball up and in the middle to Mauer, and he hit it very good.
"After that, it was a good game. My velocity was good [in the 91-93 mph range] and my changeup was working good."
It was more of the same trouble for Santana in the fourth. Carlos Gomez doubled, Nick Punto tripled him home and Span's double cashed in Punto.
Scioscia felt Santana made progress.
"He definitely pitched better," the manager said. "His command was better and he had good life on his ball, a good breaking pitch. It was a step forward, for sure."
Before Napoli tied it in the eighth with his 16th of the season, the Angels had rallied to life with a pair of runs in the seventh inning.
Juan Rivera's third hit, hiking his average to .314, ended Twins starter Nick Blackburn's night after he'd yielded a leadoff double to Reggie Willits and a 422-foot homer to right by Abreu.
After a shaky start, spotting the Angels a 2-0 first-inning lead on singles by Figgins, Izturis and Rivera along with Abreu's sacrifice fly, Blackburn settled into a groove. He was sharper than he'd been in Anaheim when he yielded six earned runs across 3 2/3 innings.
Despite yielding hits in each inning from the second through the sixth, including three by Napoli, Blackburn managed to keep the damage to a minimum -- until the seventh.
Once they started their singles party in the 11th, the Angels were in their element.
"Today, the first four pitches were nowhere near the zone," Keppel said. "And then the next two guys, it's too late by that point. When you have a leadoff walk like that, you're asking for a bad inning."
The Angels obliged. They leave July having scored 195 runs in 26 games, their most in the month since they produced 201 in 1995.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.