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Angels withstand furious Cubs rally

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CHICAGO (AP)

Torii Hunter wasn't sure what made the ninth inning more terrifying: the rain and thunder or Derrek Lee's booming home run.

After building a five-run lead thanks to homers by Hunter and Howie Kendrick - and the incompetence of Chicago's error-prone fielders - the Los Angeles Angels held on to win 7-6 Friday with Fernando Rodney finally getting the save.

``Woo, man, it was pretty scary,'' Hunter said of the ninth, when hazy sunshine turned into a driving rainstorm and homers by Tyler Colvin and Lee turned a rout into a one-run game.

``I figured we'd better hurry up and get these guys out,'' Hunter added. ``Colvin and then Lee hit home runs, and now I was closing my eyes. When Lee hit his, I heard thunder. I thought, 'Wow, they're hitting with some thunder.'''

Rodney, who had given up Lee's two-out solo shot after Francisco Rodriguez had walked two batters and then served up Colvin's long three-run homer, wiped out the rally by getting Geovany Soto to ground out.

While the Angels won for the 15th time in their last 20 road games and have overcome numerous injuries to go an AL-best 23-11 since May 14, the Cubs lost the momentum they had built with two straight victories over Oakland - their first winning streak of any length in nearly a month.

``We battled back. We didn't quit,'' Colvin said. ``You have to look at it as a good effort. It was a good sign.''

Not a good sign: The Cubs trailed only 3-2 before errors on consecutive seventh-inning plays by third baseman Jeff Baker led to three unearned runs, including two that scored on Kendrick's homer off Bob Howry.

It was the third time in four games that a Cubs player made two errors in an inning, the kind of lapses that have contributed to the team's 30-37 record. Lee's throwing error at first base let in an eighth-inning run that made it 7-2, eliciting boos from the crowd.

``We worked on these plays the other day,'' an irritated Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. ``We couldn't execute them in the game, that's all.''

Playing at Wrigley Field for the first time in their 50-year history, the Angels were only too happy to accept the Cubs' generosity.

``When the door opened a crack,'' manager Mike Scioscia said, ``we took advantage.''

Until the Cubs' late errors and futile rally, the game had featured a pitching duel between Los Angeles' Scott Kazmir and Chicago's Carlos Silva.

Kazmir (7-5) allowed five hits in six innings and gave up two runs, including one on Lee's first homer. The left-hander is 4-0 with a 2.35 ERA in June after posting a 6.34 ERA in his first nine starts.

He wanted to pitch deeper into the game, he said, ``But my body just wasn't acclimated to the heat. I struggled with it. It was humid. No breeze. No nothing.''

Silva (8-2), who has lost his last two starts despite pitching decently, also struggled physically on the muggy, 90-degree day. He gave up three runs on six hits and had to leave after the sixth due to leg cramps.

The last hit he allowed was Hunter's rising liner that sailed into the center-field bleachers for a 3-2 lead. Hunter has 18 RBIs in 17 June games and has helped make up for the absence of Kendry Morales, Erick Aybar and other injured Angels.

Hideki Matsui and Jeff Mathis drove in the other Los Angeles runs. Mathis' RBI came on a bunt single, extending his hitting streak to 11 games - every game in which he has played this season. Friday was his first day back after missing two months with a broken wrist.

NOTES: Rodney earned his sixth save in as many chances. The first five came when closer Brian Fuentes was on the DL, but Fuentes was warming up in the ninth in case Chicago's rally continued. ... Scioscia was encouraged by the progress of Aybar, who hyperextended his left knee Monday in a collision with Milwaukee's Casey McGehee. Scioscia said the shortstop might not have to go on the DL but the team won't know for sure for a few days. ... Batting leadoff for the first time, Colvin went 2 for 4 with a walk. He couldn't remember ever hitting first in high school, college or the minors. ... Bobby Abreu doubled to start L.A.'s two-run fourth and has a career .348 average at Wrigley Field. He wanted to join the Cubs after the 2008 season but they instead signed Milton Bradley, who turned out to be a bust and was traded to Seattle for Silva.

Tagged: Angels, Cubs, Torii Hunter, Derrek Lee, Jeff Mathis, Fernando Rodney

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