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Jeff Mathis' sacrifice fly in 16th inning gives Angels 4-3 marathon win over Indians

September 8, 2010 |  9:14 pm

Jeff Mathis hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 16th inning Wednesday night to lift the Angels to a 4-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians in what was the 19th game in club history to last 16 innings or more.

Torii Hunter opened the 16th with a double to left-center field off reliever Hector Ambriz. It was the 500th pitch of the game. Alberto Callaspo grounded out to first, advancing Hunter to third.

Mathis, who popped out on a suicide-squeeze attempt in the 11th inning, drove a fly ball to deep right field to score Hunter and end the 4-hour, 57-minute game. Matt Palmer, making his first appearance for the Angels since May 6, threw three scoreless innings of relief to gain the victory.

Until the 16th, it was a game of missed opportunities for the Angels.

The Angels loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning when Bobby Abreu walked with one out, Hunter fisted a hit-and-run single to center, Abreu taking third, and Callaspo was walked intentionally.

Manager Mike Scioscia called for a suicide squeeze, but Mathis, who entered the game as a defensive replacement in the 10th, popped up his bunt attempt to the catcher for an easy out. Abreu had plenty of time to get back to third, avoiding the double play, but Erick Aybar struck out to end the inning.

The Angels also blew an excellent chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth, after Callaspo singled with one out, Mike Napoli walked and both runners advanced on Aybar's groundout to first.

Indians reliever Joe Smith threw a pitch in the dirt that got by catcher Lou Marson and nearly to the backstop. Callaspo broke from third and appeared to have beat Marson's throw to Smith, who was covering home.

But Callaspo's lead foot on his slide missed the plate entirely--he appeared to be trying a hook slide and missed the plate by about six inches--and he was tagged out. Had Callaspo slid directly into the plate, he would have been safe.

The Angels thought they had it won again in the bottom of the 10th when Juan Rivera drove a line drive to deep center, but Michael Brantley made a leaping catch at the wall to rob Rivera of a home run.

Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen had pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the eighth inning to preserve a 3-2 lead, getting pinch-hitter Jordan Brown to hit a sharp grounder to first base, where Napoli fielded the ball, stepped on the bag and fired home in time to catch Trevor Crowe in a rundown. Crowe was tagged out by Callaspo at third to end the inning.

But closer Fernando Rodney couldn't finish off the Indians in the ninth. Matt LaPorta opened with a single to right-center and was replaced by pinch-runner Luis Valbuena. Andy Marte popped out to shortstop, but Jason Donald chopped one high off the plate for an infield single.

Rodney thought he had pinch-hitter Jayson Nix struck out with a 2-and-2 changeup that was belt-high across the inside corner, but home-plate umpire Joe West called it a ball, drawing loud protests from the Angels bench. Nix then hit a soft single to left to score the tying run. Rodney retired the next two batters to end the inning.

Napoli broke up Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin's no-hitter in the fifth inning, following Callaspo's fielder's choice grounder with a two-run home run to left field, his 23rd of the season, to give the Angels a 2-1 lead.

Peter Bourjos' homer to left-center in the sixth made it 3-1, but the Indians trimmed the deficit to 3-2 on Marte's solo homer to left-center off reliever Jordan Walden in the seventh. Walden struck out the other three batters he faced in the inning.

Angels left-hander Scott Kazmir gave up one run and two hits in six innings, striking out six and walking three.

-- Mike DiGiovanna