ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — After driving in a pair of runs with a homer and a double, Clete Thomas had another chance to do some damage in the eighth inning with runners at the corners and none out.
He struck out against Dane De La Rosa, but more than made up for that disappointment in the bottom half by robbing pinch-hitter Chris Iannetta of a go-ahead homer to help the Minnesota Twins beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-3 Monday night and hand Joe Blanton his major league-worst 13th defeat.
Casey Fien gave up two hits in the eighth and was replaced by All-Star closer Glen Perkins. Pinch-hitter Collin Cowgill greeted the left-hander with an RBI single, and Iannetta drove the next pitch on a high arc toward the left-field fence, where Thomas made a leaping grab.
“I was kicking myself because I didn’t get the run in, and then I go out and kind of save the game by robbing a guy of a home run. That’s the best feeling ever,” said Thomas, who also took a homer away from Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera in Sunday’s 7-1 victory at Target Field.
“Instead of being down by two in the ninth, we were up by one. I knew I had a chance, as long as I had room and had a good read on the ball. I had it the whole way. It was awesome.”
Perkins escaped with his 24th save in 26 chances, extending his scoreless streak to 19 1-3 innings after striking out Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick in the ninth with two on.
“It’s the first time we’ve tried that with Perk — bringing him on in the eighth inning to get an out there and see what happens,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We said we were going to do these things if we knew there was a lefty coming up. Perk’s our best pitcher, and he got it done.”
Samuel Deduno (6-4) allowed two runs, four hits and five walks over seven innings while striking out five on the anniversary of his first big league victory. The 30-year-old right-hander faced a lineup missing cleanup hitter Josh Hamilton because of stiffness in his right ankle.
The Angels wasted a leadoff triple in the seventh by Conger when Deduno struck out Erick Aybar and J.B. Shuck before retiring Mike Trout on a grounder.
“Sammy was unbelievable against a very tough lineup that can do a lot of things with the bat, and he made pitch after pitch,” Gardenhire said. “His last inning of work out there was unbelievable.”
In the postgame clubhouse, the Angels were still in disbelief over the way the final three innings played out.
“Chris missed by about 10 inches of getting a home run that was going to put us ahead,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We pressured them as the game went on. We had a runner on third base with nobody out and couldn’t score, and those things came back to haunt us.”
The Twins began a seven-game road trip with their fifth victory in six games following a 1-12 slide.
Blanton (2-13) threw 90 pitches in 3 2-3 innings, giving up four runs and nine hits. The beleaguered right-hander, who has allowed a major league-worst 157 hits, is 0-5 with a 5.46 ERA in 10 starts at Angel Stadium after signing a two-year, $15 million contract in December as a free agent. His only victories have come against the Royals and Astros, who are a combined 38 games under .500.
“Joe made some good pitches but he just missed with some spots,” Scioscia said. “There’s nobody trying harder than Joe, but it just didn’t come together tonight.”
The Twins grabbed a 4-2 lead with a pair of fourth-inning runs. Thomas put them ahead with his fourth homer and the 24th allowed by Blanton, who leads the majors in that department.
Shuck threw out Aaron Hicks at the plate from left field as he tried to score from second on Brian Dozier’s single. But Doug Bernier doubled on the next pitch for his first major league hit, driving in Dozier.
Bernier, the Twins’ 33-year-old shortstop, was playing in his fourth big league game and making his first start in the majors since June 19, 2008, with Colorado. He was recalled from Triple-A Rochester on July 14, more than 11 years after signing his first professional contract.
“It was nice to see a young kid — 33 years old — go out there at shortstop and play like he did and get a big base hit for us,” Gardenhire said.
The Angels opened the scoring in the first without the benefit of a hit. Deduno walked his first two batters, both advanced on a hit-and-run groundout by Pujols, and Kendrick drove in Shuck with a sacrifice fly.
Minnesota took a 2-1 lead in the second on two-out RBI doubles by Thomas and Hicks, the eighth and ninth hitters, but the Angels tied it in the third with an RBI single by Trout that extended his career-best hitting streak to 14 games.
NOTES: Blanton, pitching for the first time since his angry dugout confrontation with Iannetta and pitching coach Mike Butcher during a 4-3 loss in Seattle on July 14, had Hank Conger as his batterymate this time. “Hank works pretty good with Joe right now, and we have to do everything we can do to get Joe on board,” Scioscia said before the game. … In Blanton’s five starts with Conger behind the plate, he is 0-3 with a 4.97 ERA and seven home runs allowed. In his 15 starts with Iannetta flashing the signs, Blanton is 2-10 with a 5.90 ERA and 17 homers allowed. … Hamilton was the only player on the Angels’ roster who had faced Deduno before Monday. Minnesota’s relievers have struck out 287 batters in 332 innings, 12 more than the starters have fanned in 522 1-3 innings.
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