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09/14/08 2:34 AM ET
K-Rod preserves Halos' win with No. 58
Closer breaks saves record; Garland earns 'W' over Seattle
By Michael Schwartz / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- On an evening in which all eyes were focused on Francisco Rodriguez breaking the single-season saves record, that would not have been possible without a monster game at the plate from fellow Venezuelan Juan Rivera and a solid pitching performance by Jon Garland. The trio's efforts Saturday night helped the Angles win their fourth straight game -- 5-2 over the Mariners at Angel Stadium -- and six of seven to push them a season-high 34 games over .500. Rivera, starting in place of Vladimir Guerrero (right knee) in right field, exploded for a 4-for-4 night with a homer, three RBIs and two runs scored. He also tied a club record with his three doubles, a feat that has been accomplished by an Angel four times this season. Rivera tied the game with a two-run homer in the second and put the Angels on top for good with an RBI double in the fourth. "He's got the potential to break out," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "It was a good day for him tonight because he really carried a big part of our offense." However, Rivera suffered a mild strain in his right hip flexor running into second base on his final double in the eighth and had to leave the game. Rivera, who has driven in 16 runs in his past 13 games, said through a translator it felt "more like a tug" and "a quick jolt," so he exited to make sure the condition did not worsen. Rivera is not expected to play Sunday, but could be available against the A's, starting Tuesday in Oakland. Rivera's big day made a winner of Garland (14-8), who worked past another poor first inning to throw six innings of two-run ball. He gave up a pair of runs on three hits in the first, and then retired nine consecutive batters while not yielding another hit until Ichiro Suzuki tripled in the fifth. "Jon, once he got his feet on the ground, I thought he pitched well," Scioscia said. "First inning, he had trouble closing the inning out, and a couple times they hit a couple balls hard, but we made the plays. I think as Jon got into the game, he had a much better feel for changing speeds, and I thought he pitched a strong ballgame." Garland admitted struggling early has been his "downfall" this season, particularly during his past four starts in which he has yielded nine runs on 14 hits in those opening frames (20.25 ERA). The right-hander has now strung a pair of quality starts together after giving up just one first-inning run on six hits in seven innings Monday to beat the Yankees. "Getting toward the end of the season, it is nice to get back on top of the ball, throw the ball well and give yourself a good chance to win," Garland said.
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.