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Matthews gives Halos needed win

Matthews gives Halos needed win

ANAHEIM -- All Gary Matthews Jr. has wanted to do since joining the Angels in 2007 is to play every day.

Now, with outfielder Vladimir Guerrero out indefinitely with a torn pectoral muscle, Matthews has a chance to make more of an impact with the club, even if he's not guaranteed to play every game.

But Matthews took advantage of his improved situation by hitting the game-winning double in the Angels' much-needed 4-3 comeback win over the Tigers on Tuesday at Angel Stadium.

"It always feels good to get big hits," said Matthews, who uncharacteristically celebrated by repeatedly clapping his hands at second base after the double. "As players, because it's a long season, you try and keep your emotions on an even-keel, but tonight our emotions kind of spilled out a little bit. It wasn't a bad time to do it."

The hit was an emotional one for Matthews because not only did it end the Angels' three-game losing, streak but it also helped validate Matthews' place in the lineup.

"Gary is a guy who had a rough year last year," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "But he's come back from surgery and he looks to be taking better swings. It's good to have depth with him."

Matthews' double caromed off the right-center-field wall and came on an 0-1 fastball from reliever Brandon Lyon. The two-out double scored Torii Hunter from second base, who reached second earlier on a smart play when he tagged up on a fly to left field hit by Kendry Morales.

"It was good heads up baserunning from Torii," said Scioscia, who was ejected in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes. "He plays the game aggressive, and getting to second was big in that situation."

The double gave reliever Jose Arredondo his first win of the season after pitching a scoreless eighth inning. But starter Jered Weaver impressed by showing his resiliency by lasting for seven strong innings despite allowing a run in each of the first three innings.

"He got better as the game went on," Scioscia said. "He had some problems with Curtis Granderson, but that was that. He did a good job with a good lineup they have over there."

Weaver bounced back after allowing two solo home runs to Granderson in the first and third innings. In all, Weaver tossed seven innings, allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out six.

"It felt good," Weaver said. "I knew it was going to be a battle. So I went out there and tried to make good pitches, and it worked out."

The Angels barely clung to the victory with Brian Fuentes struggling through the ninth inning. He allowed an opening single to Carlos Guillen to open the ninth, but picked off pinch-runner Josh Anderson before striking out Adam Everett. Fuentes, though, hit the next batter and walked the following batter before striking out Ramon Santiago looking with a 2-2 fastball.

"Brian was erratic with some pitches, but he has a lot of deception in his delivery," Scioscia said. "He made some good pitches in the zone at the end there and that's what he can do. It's not always going to be clean, but he knows how to make pitches."

The Angels had a chance to blow open the game early by loading the bases in both the second and third innings, but the team scored just a run in each frame.

In the second, Erick Aybar singled home Morales, but the rally was thwarted on an excellent play by Brandon Inge at third base with one out. Inge made an off-balance throw to home to get the force out to save a run. The next batter, Maicer Izturis, grounded out to end the inning.

The Angels scored in the third with the bases loaded on a sacrifice fly by Matthews but Morales ended the inning by being thrown out while trying to tag up and get to third base.

Hunter continued his hot streak by hitting a solo home run in the fifth that effectively chased starter Armando Galarraga from the game.

Galarraga, who had a 0.68 ERA entering the game, lasted just five innings, allowing three runs on seven hits while walking three and striking out four.

"We battled back against a pitcher that has had a good season last year and one this year too," Scioscia said. "We pieced together some key hits and it felt good to hold on to it."

The win couldn't have come at a better time for the Angels. They went 1-5 on the road last week.

"It's been a really, really long trip for us," Matthews said. "It's obviously an emotional team right now so I don't know if there's a better situation than to get an emotional win. We've got some fire and some passion right now, so hopefully we can point it all in the right direction."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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