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Pennington takes advantage of rare start
By Kaelen Jones
ANAHEIM -- Cliff Pennington demonstrated his importance both in the field and at the dish during Angels' 3-1 loss to the Royals on Friday night at Angel Stadium. The veteran infielder produced the Halos' lone run when he broke up Ian Kennedy's perfect-game bid with a two-out home run in the sixth inning, drawing Los Angeles within a run.
Pennington said he was approaching the at-bat just like any other before going deep against Kennedy, his former D-backs teammate, when the right-hander served him a 3-1 four-seam fastball.
"That's probably one of the few times he had fallen behind," said Pennington, who got a rare start to give Danny Espinosa a breather. "He came right at me with a fastball, and I got it pretty good."
The connection marked Pennington's first hit since June 3. The 33-year-old's third-inning strikeout was his 10th straight at-bat (12 plate appearances) without a hit, a span of five games spread out across the past two weeks.
Pennington, who grinned at the mention of the hit being his first extra-base knock of the season, said he wasn't aware of the hitless stretch.
"I just get in the box, and try and get a good pitch every time," he said. "If you're playing five games in a row, and you go 0-for over five games in a row, you probably might have an idea. But the at-bats have been pretty decent lately, I just haven't finished them the way that I want."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he valued Pennington, adding that Friday's performance "got us back in the game."
In fact, Pennington's defensive efforts were just as crucial to keeping Los Angeles in the contest Friday. During the top of the fifth inning, Angels starter Jesse Chavez faced Royals right fielder Jorge Bonifacio with runners on the corners and no outs, trailing 1-0. The slugger scorched line drive through the right side of the infield, but Pennington gloved it for the out then fired over to first for a double play.
"It was unbelievable," Chavez said. "He did a great job and that kind of lit a fire up under me."
"I actually took a peak at third first, because that was more in my line of sight," Pennington said. "I saw the runner at first and threw it over there."
Scioscia made it known he's thankful of Pennington's contributions, lauding his effort despite his usage being inconsistent.
"He knows he's not going to play every day, but he comes here, works hard, and keeps himself ready, and got a big hit for us in the game," Scioscia said. "He works hard at it."
Kaelen Jones is a reporter for MLB.com based in Anaheim. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.