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OC Register: Pitching and defense lead Angels to third straight victory, beating Blue Jays 2-1


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ANAHEIM — Score a victory for the Angels maligned bullpen.

After Andrew Heaney’s strong seven innings and a rather modest performance from the Angels hitters, relievers Cam Bedrosian and Blake Parker secured a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.

The Angels have won three in a row, as they begin to right the ship after a performance a week earlier when the bullpen had much to do with their struggles.

Bedrosian, who allowed a bloop hit to score the tying run in the ninth in Sunday’s loss, pitched a perfect eighth on Friday.

Parker followed with a scoreless ninth, securing the victory for Heaney.

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Heaney pitched around nine hits to allow one run. At times he easily sliced through the Toronto hitters, but he also darted around trouble with the help of some solid defense.

In the second inning, third baseman Luis Valbuena made a nice backhand stop and a throw to second to get a force. Valbuena also charged and barehanded a bouncer to end the fourth, with two runners on base.

Left fielder Justin Upton made a leaping catch of a Russell Martin fly ball at the fence in the second, robbing him of an extra-base hit.

Heaney had only one 1-2-3 inning, and it was the first. After that, he was pitching with traffic on the bases for much of the night.

He also had little margin for error, because the Angels didn’t get him a run after they scored two in the first.

Albert Pujols yanked a double down the left field line, driving in Justin Upton from first. Luis Valbuena followed with an RBI single.

After that, Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada gave up just one hit over his next six innings. Pujols had a single to lead off the fourth, and he was quickly erased when Valbuena lined into a double play.

Estrada also ended Andrelton Simmons’ streak of 90 consecutive plate appearances without a strikeout, the fourth longest in Angels history. When Estrada got Simmons to swing through a changeup in the fourth inning, it was Simmons’ first strikeout since May 18.

It was such a quiet night for the Angels hitters that even Mike Trout failed to reach base for the first time since June 10.

While there wasn’t much happening offensively, the pitchers did enough for the Angels to win.

While the Angels have been playing better, the team they are chasing seems to be coming back to Earth.

The Seattle Mariners, who currently sit in the second wild-card spot, lost their fifth consecutive game on Friday night. The Mariners are in the midst of a stretch of 10 straight games against the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, teams they hadn’t played until now.

The Mariners had been sizzling, winning 13 out of 16 games before this stretch. Thanks to a 23-11 record in one-run games, the Mariners had bolted to the top of the division despite what is now a run-differential of just plus-10.

The Angels, meanwhile, have not fared so well in close games, so they fell behind, even though their run-differential now sits at plus-32.

More to come on this story.

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