Figgins' single wins it for Angels

Figgins' single wins it for Angels

ANAHEIM -- Down to 23 players for four games, without a manager for three games and falling behind in two, there didn't seem a chance the Angels could sweep the Mariners out of town.

Thanks to some clutch hitting on Sunday, the Angels -- playing on their 24th consecutive day -- conquered all those obstacles and more.

They survived with an overworked bullpen, came from behind against a stellar young closer and beat out fatigue and suspensions.

"You have to weather the suspensions; there's no other option," manager Mike Scioscia said. "For us to go out there and get four games with a 23-man roster shows some of the character of this club."

Chone Figgins gave the Angels another reason to enjoy their first day off in more than three weeks when he stroked the winning single in the ninth inning to give his club a 3-2 victory at Angel Stadium.

The line drive was Figgins' first walk-off hit of his Major League career and was simply shocking to a player that has hit into bad luck time and time again this year.

"I was just surprised it found a hole," said Figgins, who had lined sharply to shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt two innings earlier. "After I hit it, I told myself if Betancourt catches it, I'm going to chase him around right on the field."

Reggie Willits scored from second on the hit by Figgins, who is batting .345 over the past two weeks and might just be turning around a season in which he has caught few, if any, breaks.

"It's still tough just hitting balls hard and lining out," he said. "It was a big sigh of relief to have a hit fall in that situation."

Another Angels hitter who is seemingly regaining his stroke tied the game for the Angels with two outs in the eighth inning.

Garret Anderson, who is hitting .337 since his average fell to a season-low .259 on July 23, sliced a ball to left to knot the score at 2. After getting ahead in the count against Mariners closer J.J. Putz, 2-0, Anderson placed a ball between shortstop and third base, which easily scored Orlando Cabrera.

With their bullpen options dwindling, the Angels were fortunate to have won in the ninth inning. Brendan Donnelly and J.C. Romero combined for two innings of scoreless relief with Donnelly (3-0) picking up the victory, allowing one hit over 1 2/3 innings.

With Kevin Gregg serving the final game of his suspension and the trio of Hector Carrasco, Scot Shields and Francisco Rodriguez unavailable because of recent heavy workloads, Scioscia would have been left with either Saturday call-up Greg Jones or Tuesday's starter Joe Saunders if the game had ventured into extra innings.

The club pushed back Saunders' scheduled bullpen session until after the game in case he had to pitch in extra frames.

For a while, it seemed as if Angels starter Ervin Santana's lone mistake was going to keep the Angels from sending the Mariners to their Major League record 20th straight loss in division play.

Richie Sexson crushed a two-run home run to straightaway center in the fourth inning on a slider that caught too much of the plate, the only damage the Mariners were able to hang on Santana, who otherwise worked around five walks.

"Only that slider was my one mistake, and after that I told myself, 'No more mistakes' and I stayed focused," Santana said.

Still feeling pain from being hit on his left knee two weeks ago in Cleveland, Santana struck out six batters and surrendered just four hits. He missed out on setting a career high of 13 victories for the third straight start.

Santana said that he didn't have good command of most of his pitches while warming up, making it all the more impressive he was able to give his club seven quality innings using a season-high 118 pitches.

"What [Santana] did was huge," Scioscia said. "He was pitching maybe a few more pitches than he had in his previous outings, but he was able to keep us in it."

In his first career start, Mariners pitcher Jake Woods looked like he had been pitching in the Major Leagues for years. Woods allowed only one run and five hits in a career-high 5 2/3 innings.

The Mariners picked up Woods off waivers from the Angels last December and he delivered against his former club.

"He did a heck of a job for his first start," Scioscia said. "He did what we thought he would and we missed fastballs on early counts that probably let him pitch longer."

Willits reached against Putz (2-1) in the ninth after Sexson dived to grab his grounder, but couldn't hold onto it, which allowed the speedy rookie to safely race to first. Jose Molina sacrificed Willits to second, setting the stage for Figgins' winning single.

Scioscia, managing his first game of the series after being suspended for the first three, noted an aura of confidence continuing to build within his club after their second come-from-behind victory in as many days.

"We came back against a bullpen that has good arms, and for us to get a win gives these guys a certain measure of confidence," Scioscia said. "But it's been developing from when we started playing better baseball in July.

"These guys get on the field expecting to win."

Greg Wagner is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.