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Saunders pitches Angels to 6-3 win over Blue Jays; Kendrick and Rivera hit home runs

April 17, 2010 |  1:01 pm


Joe Saunders threw eight strong innings Saturday, allowing two unearned runs and five hits, to lead the Angels to a 6-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in the Rogers Centre, the first time this season the Angels have won two games in a row.

Saunders only struck out two batters, but the left-hander walked just one and pounded the strike zone all afternoon -- of his 107 pitches, 73 were strikes. Fernando Rodney struck out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth for his third save in four days.

The Angels used four extra-base hits, including home runs by Howie Kendrick and Juan Rivera, to build a 4-0 lead in the top of the third.

Kendrick, moved up to the second spot in the order because right fielder Bobby Abreu was given the day off, followed Erick Aybar's leadoff walk in the first with a two-run homer to left-center off Blue Jays starter Brian Tallet, Kendrick's first of the season.

Rivera opened the second with a towering shot down the left-field line that reached the fourth deck. The 100th homer of his career and third of the season gave the Angels a 3-0 led. Back-to-back, two-out doubles by Torii Hunter and Hideki Matsui in the third inning made it 4-0.

But a pair of errors by Angels third baseman Brandon Wood enabled Toronto to score two unearned runs in the bottom of the third.

John McDonald sparked the rally with a two-out double off the glove of a diving Wood. As McDonald took off on a stolen-base attempt, Mike McCoy hit a chopper to third that got to Wood just as McDonald was about to slide into the base.

Wood seemed distracted by the runner, and he failed to glove the grounder, an error that allowed McDonald to score and McCoy to take second. Alex Gonzalez followed with a routine grounder to third that Wood gloved, but Wood bounced his throw past first baseman Kendry Morales for an error that allowed McCoy to score, pulling the Blue Jays to within 4-2.

The Angels added an insurance run in the eighth when Rivera, following an intentional walk to Morales with Kendrick at third, flared an RBI single down the first-base line for a 5-2 Angels lead.

A strong effort by Angels catcher Mike Napoli saved a run in the bottom of the eighth. Gonzalez doubled with two outs, and Adam Lind singled to right. Gonzalez beat right fielder Reggie Willits' throw home, but as he slid and attempted to swipe the plate with his left hand, Napoli blocked Gonzalez's path to the plate with his left foot.

Gonzalez's slide carried him past the plate, and when Napoli applied the tag on him, umpire Marvin Hudson called Gonzalez out. Though the crowd booed loudly, replays showed Gonzalez did not touch the plate.

The Angels then scored in the top of the ninth when Willits blooped a double to right-center, took third on Aybar's grounder to second and came home on Kendrick's single to right-center for a 6-2 lead.

-- Mike DiGiovanna in Toronto

Photo: Angels starting pitcher Joe Saunders, delivering a pitch in the first inning Saturday against Toronto, picked up his first victory of the season. Credit: Darren Calabrese / Associated Press