Bourjos singles in winner in ninth
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)
When Peter Bourjos' line drive flew through a hole in Chicago's drawn-in infield and skipped on the grass in left field, the Angels followed their now-familiar drill, charging out of the dugout for another celebration.
Ever since Los Angeles' playoff hopes dimmed sharply a week ago, they have improbably been growing brighter with one spectacular win after another.
Bourjos connected for a bases-loaded single in the ninth inning, and the Angels beat the Chicago White Sox 5-4 on Tuesday night for their fifth straight victory, including three in their last at-bat.
''Oh, we never think we're out of it,'' said Torii Hunter, who had two hits. ''There's a lot of faith in this clubhouse.''
Howie Kendrick homered and tripled as the suddenly surging Angels matched their longest win streak of the season, trimming their AL West deficit to 3 1/2 games behind Texas. With the Rangers' 11-5 loss to Boston, the Angels crept closer to the division leader just five days after losing three of four in a head-to-head matchup that left them six games out.
''We know how many games we're back, but we don't talk about it,'' Kendrick said. ''We've still got a month left, plus seven or eight days. Even though we went down seven games, we never thought we were out of it.''
Chicago, which helped the Angels' cause last weekend by taking two of three from Texas, lost for just the sixth time in 17 games. The White Sox erased Los Angeles' eighth-inning lead when Paul Konerko drove in the tying run with a single that was his 2,000th hit.
''I'm glad it was a meaningful hit in the game,'' Konerko said. ''It was a hitter's hit — a line drive to right, just like my first hit.''
But after Erick Aybar's one-out single off Jason Frasor (3-3), pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo moved him to third with a single - and he alertly advanced to second on the throw, forcing the White Sox to walk Maicer Izturis to load the bases before Bourjos' hit easily scored Aybar.
''We saw Texas had lost, so that's a big win,'' said Bourjos, who extended his hitting streak to nine games with his winner. ''We're just trying to climb back into it.''
Jordan Walden (4-3) pitched the ninth inning after the Angels got another strong start from Ervin Santana, who gave up nine hits and four runs, pitching into the eighth inning in his seventh straight start.
Mark Buehrle yielded seven hits and four runs over six innings for the White Sox. Buehrle hasn't won at Angel Stadium since August 2001, but Konerko's eighth-inning hit took him off the hook for his first consecutive losses since April.
''This is probably one of the worst nights I've had,'' Buehrle said. ''I didn't make too many good pitches. I don't think I was throwing anything close to really make them work or think about swinging. I was falling behind in the count with stuff that wasn't even close, throwing balls in the dirt. It's frustrating because, obviously, we need to win.''
Los Angeles scored single runs in each of the first four innings, including Kendrick's career-high 11th homer in the second and Torii Hunter's RBI single in the third.
Kendrick put a triple in the gap and scored on Aybar's fly to shallow center in the fourth, sliding around Tyler Flowers' tag and nearly taking out home plate umpire Tony Randazzo. Kendrick was thrown out at the plate in the sixth inning, however.
Santana nursed a 4-3 lead into the eighth, getting two quick outs before Alejandro De Aza singled and stole second. Konerko singled on Santana's first two-strike pitch after a mound conference, and Santana headed back to the dugout moments later with his head hung low.
''Even the last one to Konerko was a good pitch,'' Santana said.
Konerko is the 13th player to get his 2,000th hit with the White Sox. Chicago's All-Star slugger joined a group including Jim Thome, Frank Thomas, Tim Raines and Carlton Fisk.
''The first thing I think of is, 'How the hell did Pete Rose get 4,000 hits?''' Konerko said. ''Or (Derek) Jeter getting 3,000 hits, or any of those guys. I mean, you do this from the time you're a kid until you're at the stage where you've got a wife and kids, and for someone else to have another 1,000 hits or another 2,000 hits, it just seems like, wow, those guys are good.''
NOTES: Earlier Tuesday, the Angels announced a new five-year, $85 million contract for ace Jered Weaver, who will pitch against the White Sox on Wednesday when Los Angeles' nine-game homestand concludes. Weaver is 14-6 with a 2.10 ERA this season, starting the All-Star game for the AL last month. ... Zach Stewart will oppose Weaver in Wednesday's series finale. ... White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen on Weaver's contract: ''I think he showed me a lot of class. I wish I was his agent.''