TORONTO (AP) — Even as the pressure mounted in the ninth inning, Angels closer Ernesto Frieri couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.
Rookie Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo each hit two-run homers Alberto Callaspo added a solo shot as Los Angeles beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-7 on Thursday night for their 14th victory in 18 games.
Frieri’s 10th save in as many chances was his most difficult yet, as Toronto loaded the bases against him in the ninth with back-to-back singles and a walk.
The two hits off Frieri were the most he’s allowed in any of his 23 outings since joining the Angels, and the first time he’s allowed consecutive hits.
Frieri, who has not allowed a run since his May 3 trade from San Diego, said AL hitters have started looking for the fastball against him.
“They’re ready for me,” he said. “They’re looking for fastballs all the time now and they know that I throw it a lot.”
Jeff Mathis and Brett Lawrie singled on fastballs to begin the ninth. That’s when Frieri got fired up.
“When the crowd got loud, I got excited,” he said. “I was smiling. Nobody out, men at first and second I was like, `I like this. I’ve got to get out of here, man. It’s going to be fun when I get out of here, so let’s do it.'”
Frieri struck out Colby Rasmus, then loaded the bases by walking Jose Bautista on a 3-2 pitch. He ended it with a slider, not a fastball, getting Edwin Encarnacion to ground into a game-ending double play.
“A perfect pitch in the perfect situation,” Frieri said.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia credited second baseman Howie Kendrick and Albert Pujols at first for their roles.
“That double play was not easy,” Scioscia said. “Howie hung in there to get rid of it and Albert made a great pick.”
Trout went 2 for 5 to raise his American League-leading average to .345 as the Angels, who have won 25 of 33 overall, improved to 14-1 in their past 15 road contests.
“He’s brought some great energy since he’s been up here,” Pujols said of Trout.
Bautista hit his major league-best 26th homer, a three-run drive in the fifth, but it wasn’t enough as the last-place Blue Jays lost their third in a row.
Pujols had four of Los Angeles’ 14 hits as the Angels continued to pound opposition pitching; they’ve scored 64 runs in the past eight games. For Pujols, it was his first four-hit game since signing with Los Angeles last winter.
“If we’re going to reach our goal, our lineup has to flow like this,” Scioscia said.
Dan Haren (6-7) allowed six runs and seven hits in six innings to win consecutive starts for the first time since May 29. Haren, who walked one and struck out three, improved to 5-0 in seven career starts at Rogers Centre.
LaTroy Hawkins worked the seventh and Scott Downs got two outs in the eighth before Frieri finished it off.
Brett Cecil (1-1) lost for the first time in three starts this season, giving up eight runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings. He walked two and struck out a season-high six.
“When he left a pitch up over the plate, they didn’t miss it,” Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.
Callaspo opened the scoring with a home run in the second, his fifth, but the Blue Jays answered in the bottom half on Yunel Escobar’s RBI groundout.
Toronto’s Jeff Mathis hit a leadoff homer against his former team in the third, but the Angels reclaimed the lead with three in the fourth. Pujols led off with a double and Trumbo followed with his team-leading 19th homer. Kendrick walked, went to third on Callaspo’s single and scored on Peter Bourjos’ sacrifice fly.
The Blue Jays cut it to 4-3 in the bottom half on a sacrifice fly by Rajai Davis, but Kendrick restored the two-run cushion with an RBI single in the fifth.
Bautista erased the advantage in the bottom half with a booming drive into the second deck in left. The homer was Bautista’s 14th in June, extending his team record.
Bourjos tied it with an RBI double and Trout chased Cecil in the sixth with a two-run drive that just cleared the wall in left, his eighth.
Toronto cut it to 8-7 on Lawrie’s RBI single in the seventh, but Rasmus was thrown out trying to score from third on Bautista’s grounder to short.
Trumbo added some insurance when he tripled home a run in the ninth against reliever Casey Janssen.
Mathis had four hits, matching a career high, and scored three runs for Toronto. He came within a triple of the cycle.
NOTES: Blue Jays RHP Henderson Alvarez, who left Monday’s start at Boston with a sore elbow, threw before the game and remains on track to start Saturday, manager John Farrell said. … Angels RHP Jerome Williams (respiratory) threw a bullpen session before the game. Williams went on the DL June 19 after suffering an asthma attack following a start against San Francisco. … Fans cheered and the game was briefly halted with Callaspo batting in the fifth when a pigeon walked across the field between the mound and home plate.