Angels use bullpen game to beat White Sox for 6th straight win

View Original Notice ? Angels use bullpen game to beat White Sox for 6th straight win

CHICAGO — This wasn’t the game the Angels planned, but it still couldn’t have worked out much better.

Forced into a bullpen game because of an illness to scheduled starter Noah Syndergaard, the Angels still beat the Chicago White Sox and ace Lucas Giolito, 5-1, on Friday night, their sixth consecutive victory.

“It’s amazing,” said Jimmy Herget, a reliever who was pressed into duty as a starter. “We feel unbeatable at this point.”

Herget, Austin Warren, Archie Bradley, Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera, Mike Mayers and Raisel Iglesias combined to hold the White Sox to three hits. At one point, they retired 18 hitters in a row.

“They were outstanding,” catcher Max Stassi said. “And they all pounded the zone. One walk tonight. I thought it was phenomenal. They all came in and executed their pitches and picked one another up.”

They received top-to-bottom offensive production and some brilliant defense.

The Angels had a 2-0 lead before throwing their first pitch, thanks to solo home runs by sizzling Taylor Ward and warming Shohei Ohtani.

Ward led off the game with his fifth homer of the season, and fourth of the week. He later doubled home an insurance run in the ninth.

Ohtani belted his fourth homer of the season, this one to left-center. He also hit a single to center field, a fly ball to center field and a ground ball up the middle, all signs that he might not be pulling the ball as much as he did when he was slumping. Ohtani has eight hits in 21 at-bats in his last five games. His average is up to .247 and his OPS to .732, which are both better than the major league average.

“He’s not pulling off the ball,” Manager Joe Maddon said. “When he’s getting rollover grounders, that’s never a good sign. When he’s hitting the ball hard back up the middle, that’s always a good sign.”

Anthony Rendon also is showing signs of improvement. He doubled into both gaps, the second one driving in the Angels’ third run of the game. He also made two sensational plays at third base, on a ground ball and a line drive down the line.

Jared Walsh also had an RBI double, against a left-handed pitcher. Walsh is trying to demonstrate he can hit lefties so he won’t be platooned.

David Fletcher, who went on the injured list with one hit, came back and added two doubles.

It was enough support for a bullpen that performed mostly flawlessly.

Herget got the start, and Maddon said before the game that the best-case scenario would be three innings from Herget. Although he gave up a run in the first, he retired all six he faced in the second and third.

Warren then took over and pitched two perfect innings, thanks to some sharp defense. Mike Trout robbed José Abreu of an extra-base hit with a leaping catch at the fence to end the fourth inning. Rendon’s backhand stab of a hard grounder ended the fifth.

Bradley took over in the sixth and retired the White Sox in order. Loup worked around a single in the seventh, and then Tepera pitched the eighth.

“(Good pitching) is definitely contagious,” Bradley said. “You see the next guy out there throw up zeros and you don’t want to be the one to go in there and screw it up, especially a day like today. Noah wasn’t feeling good. It was a big day for us to step up and make it happen.”

The Angels tried to get by without Iglesias, but Mayers allowed two of the first three hitters in the ninth to reach, so Iglesias entered for the final two outs, getting Luis Robert to fly out with the bases loaded to end it for his sixth save.

“It was just a really well-played game on our part,” Maddon said.