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OC Register: Angels’ sixth straight win is worth the wait for Tyler Skaggs

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MINNEAPOLIS – Tyler Skaggs had to wait until Saturday, nine years after he was first drafted by the Angels, to pitch a game in Minnesota. How much could another four hours matter?

The Angels and Twins sat through a four-hour rain delay, but Skaggs looked no worse for the layoff. He allowed one run over seven innings of a 2-1 victory that extended the Angels’ winning streak to six.

Home runs by Ian Kinsler and Albert Pujols accounted for both Angels runs before the announced crowd of 24,061.

The Angels (37-28) gained a game on the Seattle Mariners and are now 3 1/2 games out of first place in the American League West.

Skaggs (5-4) allowed five hits, one run, walked one batter and struck out eight. He lowered his ERA to 3.08 and has now won both of his starts this month after a winless May.

Kinsler’s home run, a laser to left field off Twins starter Kyle Gibson, gave the Angels a 1-0 lead in the third inning. It was Kinsler’s third home run in his last three games.

Pujols’ 623rd career home run took flight in the sixth inning. It landed in the first row of the first deck of seats overhanging the left-field bleachers, where it soon became the possession of an elated fan. The souvenir ball was the 1,951st RBI of Pujols’ career, which tied another former St. Louis Cardinals great, Stan Musial, for sixth place on the all-time list.

That gave the Angels a 2-0 lead. Between Skaggs’ dominance and the Twins’ offensive stupor – through Friday, only seven teams had scored fewer runs this season – that might have been enough to win comfortably.

Minnesota’s only run was somewhat of a fluke. Singles by Eddie Rosario and Robbie Grossman put runners at first and third with one out in the sixth inning.

Skaggs had the fortune of facing a left-handed hitter, Max Kepler, whose .615 on-base plus slugging percentage against lefties dwarfs his career production against righties (.784). Skaggs got ahead 1-and-2 and induced a ground ball to first base with a sweeping curve.

Angels first baseman Jose Fernandez stepped on the bag to retire Kepler, then threw to shortstop Zack Cozart, who needed to tag Grossman to end the inning. Grossman cleverly remained in a rundown long enough for Rosario to score from third base before he was tagged out, and the Twins were credited with a run on the unusual inning-ending double play.

It was the first run Skaggs has allowed since May.

The Angels nearly padded their lead in the eighth inning. Justin Upton was hit by a pitch in the arm by Trevor Hildenberger and stole second base – his eighth successful steal in eight attempts as an Angel.

The next batter, Pujols, roped a single into left-center. Rosario’s throw from left field was up the third-base line and reached catcher Bobby Wilson on one hop, but Wilson was able to reach back and tag Upton before he tagged home plate.

It didn’t matter. Justin Anderson pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Blake Parker a scoreless ninth. Parker has converted seven of eight save opportunities this season.

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