Rodriguez blew another save for John Lackey in the ninth inning, giving up a tying home run to Ryan Garko. But Kendry Morales lined a single past a drawn-in infield in the 10th, helping the Angels beat the Cleveland Indians 3-2 on Friday night.
Despite K-Rod’s six blown saves this season, the Angels are still perfect in their last 147 games when leading after eight innings.
“Frankie’s one of the best in the game, but everybody goes through these stretches,” said Shields (4-5), who broke Dave LaRoche’s franchise record for career victories by a reliever after allowing 15 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings over his previous 13 appearances.
“Frankie’s got the stuff. It’s just not going his way right now, but he’s definitely going to bounce back. He’s one of the best in the business for a reason, so he’ll be fine.”
Rodriguez, trying to preserve Lackey’s 17th victory, gave up Garko’s 16th home run on a 2-1 pitch. It was the third homer K-Rod has allowed in 58 2/3 innings this season.
“I just tried to get a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it. I didn’t want to swing at one of those hard sliders in the dirt,” Garko said. “I hit it pretty good, but I didn’t think it was going to get over. I thought it was going to hit the wall. It’s hard to hit balls out in that right-center gap because of how high that wall is. It’s too bad we couldn’t find a way to get one more, because we had him on the ropes a little bit.”
The Indians then loaded the bases with two out against Rodriguez, aided by an error and a pair of walks. But Shields came in and threw a called third strike past Asdrubal Cabrera.
“Once I threw the first pitch, I knew that my location was down pat and I was able to get a big strikeout there,” said Shields, who retired all four batters he faced, fanning three. “I felt like I was on my game tonight and everything was clicking.”
Lackey allowed a run and six hits over seven innings, struck out six and stranded runners in scoring position in four of the first six frames. The All-Star right-hander could have been a 20-game winner already this season, but the Angels’ bullpen has blown the lead four times when he was in position to get the victory.
“It’s just one of those things,” Lackey said after lowering his ERA to 3.18. “But it doesn’t matter whether I get there or not, really. I’ll know in my mind that I’ve pitched good enough to get there this year. It takes a little of everything to get there. You can only do so much.”
The Angels and Indians butted heads in the second game of a four-game series between
The Angels’ magic number for clinching their third division title in four years is 14.
The Indians, who lost the opener of this series 10-3, saw their lead in the Central Division drop to five games over the Tigers. Their magic number for clinching remained at 17.
Chone Figgins, back in the starting lineup for the first time since Aug. 21 after being sidelined because of a bruised left wrist, started the winning rally with his third hit — a leadoff double against Rafael Betancourt (4-1).
Figgins tagged up and advanced to third on Orlando Cabrera’s flyball to right, and Garret Anderson was intentionally walked for the third time in the game. Morales then lined a 1-2 pitch past first base to give the Angels their 10th walkoff win of the season.
Angels right fielder Vladimir Guerrero missed his second straight game because of inflammation in his right triceps.
Figgins hit an opposite-field single with one out in the sixth and came all the way around as Cabrera doubled inside third base on a 2-1 pitch, giving the Angels a 2-1 lead against Jake Westbrook. The right-hander allowed two runs and five hits over 7 2/3 innings, striking out two and walking five — including
Lackey fanned Cabrera in the first inning for his 900th career strikeout.
The crowd of 40,020 pushed the Angels’ home attendance over 3 million for the fifth straight season — a streak that began following their 2002 World Series title.
Grady Sizemore stole second in the fifth, becoming the first player to steal 30 bases for the Indians since Roberto Alomar in 2001.
The Angels are 12-0 in home games on Friday nights.