Werth, LaRoche lift Nats past Angels 5-4 in 9th
WASHINGTON (AP) Trailing by two runs with two men on in the bottom of the ninth inning, Washington’s Jayson Werth worked a 3-0 count against Angels closer Ernesto Frieri.
Time to take a pitch, right?
”I can’t imagine anybody thinking that J-Dub’s going to swing,” Werth’s teammate Adam LaRoche said. ”Surprised all of us.”
Werth did indeed go after the next pitch, hitting it down the third-base line for a game-tying, two-run double that ended Frieri’s rough outing.
LaRoche then produced an RBI single off the first pitch from Fernando Salas to cap a four-run rally in the ninth, and the Nationals beat the Angels 5-4 Wednesday night to avoid a sweep.
”You hit into a double play right there, it’s probably the worst play you’ve ever seen,” Werth said. ”If you get a hit, it’s the best.”
Los Angeles led 4-1 entering the ninth, and Frieri (0-2) was seeking his third save.
Instead, he left with his second blown chance, charged with all four runs Washington scored in that inning. The Nationals trailed in seven of their 12 wins.
”I knew that he was going to swing,” Frieri said. ”He’s a power guy. So I tried to keep the ball down. But I still missed it right down the middle. … I mean, today was a mess, man.”
Still, manager Mike Scioscia indicated he will keep Frieri in the closer’s role.
”He just got a save the other night,” Scioscia said. ”It’s in him. We just need to get him a little more consistent.”
Part of Frieri’s problem was failing to put away Jose Lobaton leading off the ninth after getting ahead 0-2. Lobaton hit his first homer of the season.
”The spark we needed,” Werth said.
One out later, Werth made it 4-all. On LaRoche’s liner to left, Werth beat the throw from Mike Trout, crossed the plate with a fist raised and was greeted by teammates streaming out of the dugout. They then headed over to swarm LaRoche.
”He left a fastball up over the plate,” LaRoche said. ”In that situation, just trying to hit something hard.”
Drew Storen (2-0) got one out in the ninth for the victory, despite giving up an RBI single to Trout.
That hit scored Raul Ibanez, who reached when first baseman LaRoche was charged with an error for dropping the ball while transferring it from his glove to his throwing hand after catching a line drive.
”It’s one of the worst rules I’ve ever heard of. I don’t feel like it’s baseball,” LaRoche said. ”It doesn’t make sense. It’s frustrating, especially in a close game where that could have ended up costing us. Hopefully we’ll get that rule changed sooner than later.”
Trout robbed Bryce Harper of a hit with a headfirst diving catch in the first, then beat a throw home from his fellow 2012 Rookie of the Year to score in the sixth.
A night after hitting his 499th and 500th homers, Albert Pujols went 2 for 4 with an RBI double, while Jered Weaver allowed one run in six innings.
But the Angels dropped to 10-11, blowing an opportunity to climb above .500 for the first time since they were 1-0 last season.
Washington’s Gio Gonzalez gave up two runs over five-plus innings, leaving after only 83 pitches because of what manager Matt Williams called ”a little shoulder tightness.”
”Ordinarily I wouldn’t take him out of the game there, but we want to make sure he’s OK for our future, too,” Williams said.
Gonzalez, who also drove in Washington’s first run, said he expects to make his next start.
So much attention at the start of this series was on Trout, 22, and Harper, 21, first-round draft picks who were Arizona Fall League teammates in 2011 but hadn’t played each other in the majors until Monday.
Yanked from a game last weekend for what Williams called ”lack of hustle,” Harper went from what appeared to be a jog to a sprint when his grounder in the eighth was fumbled by first baseman Pujols, who was charged with an error.
”He’s safe at first base. That’s all I care about,” Williams said. ”We’re not asking him to go 100 percent all the time, as fast as he can possibly go at every single moment. Because not everybody does.”
NOTES: After a day off, the Angels put LHP C.J. Wilson (2-2, 4.21) on the mound Friday against Yankees RHP Hiroki Kuroda (2-1, 4.07) for the start of a three-game series at New York. … The Nationals begin a four-game set Thursday against visiting San Diego, with RHP Jordan Zimmermann (1-1, 3.92) facing Padres LHP Eric Stults (1-2, 4.35).
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