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Angels beat Athletics, 5-4, with ninth-inning blast from Geovany Soto

Angels beat Athletics, 5-4, with ninth-inning blast from Geovany Soto
Geovany Soto is congratulated by Johnny Giavotella (12) and Craig Gentry (3) after hitting a two-run home run in the ninth inning of the Angels' 5-4 win over the Athletics on April 12. (Ben Margot / Associated Press)

It made for a weird, cosmic sort of revenge, where most of the parties involved missed it.

Down to their last strike of Tuesday's eighth inning, against the man once signed to be their closer, the Angels rallied and propelled themselves toward an improbable win at the Oakland Coliseum.

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Albert Pujols powered a two-out, two-strike double against Athletics setup man Ryan Madson, turning a 4-1 deficit into a one-run game the Angels went on to win, 5-4, in the ninth.

"That was the turning right point right there," Geovany Soto said after the Angels' third consecutive victory. "It kept us within a cough to make something happen."

Soto, the Angels backup catcher, provided the cough in the ninth inning, when Oakland closer Sean Doolittle threw him a fastball down the middle and he unloaded for a two-run home run.

"It ended up in kind of like a buffer zone, thigh high," Doolittle said. "The way my fastball tends to ride, it's weird, I tend to get in trouble when the ball's down."

Madson never pitched for the Angels. He spent the 2013 season trying and failing to find his way back from Tommy John surgery. But he helped them out on this night.

Hector Santiago threw four consecutive balls to Billy Burns to start the game and then did not issue a walk to the subsequent 30 batters he faced. The one cost him, though: Burns stole second, moved to third on a Josh Phegley fly ball, and scored when Josh Reddick singled through the middle.

Most of Santiago's missteps thereafter were confined to one Oakland batter, shortstop Marcus Semien. Twice, Santiago battled Semien to a 2-2 count, and twice he threw pitches over the middle-in part of the plate.

Both times, Semien launched them for home runs, first in the third inning and then again in the seventh. After the first homer, Santiago allowed another Burns single, steal and score.

But a seven-pitch fourth inning refueled the 28-year-old left-hander, and he lasted into the eighth, his 72/3 innings more than he had thrown in 57 starts as an Angel. He established his slider early on and then ceased throwing it altogether from the fourth inning on, confusing the Athletics with his changeup.

"It was a matter of getting them looking for something, and then going away from it," Santiago said.

Mike Morin (1-0) faced one batter in relief , whom he struck out, before Scioscia handed the ball to closer Huston Street for the save, his third. It was Street's third consecutive day pitching; he almost assuredly will be unavailable Wednesday afternoon.

The Angels scored only once against sinkerballing starter Kendall Graveman. In the second, Pujols walked, Kole Calhoun singled, and Pujols alertly took third. The Angels added another walk and another single later in the inning, but, in between, Andrelton Simmons grounded into a double play, which brought in Pujols but hurt the overall cause.

They summoned sporadic baserunners, including in the seventh inning, when Simmons singled and took off running on a hit-and-run play. Soto lined a ball hard to right field, but Reddick caught it and threw back to first base, doubling up Simmons, who was halfway between second and third by then, thinking that it had dropped.

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Simmons settled his debt in the ninth, when he ranged deep into foul territory, perhaps 100 feet from where he started, and slid to secure a foul popup from Coco Crisp for the first out. Street looked his way from the mound, nodded, and raved about it later.

Pujols' double allowed him to pass Reggie Jackson in baseball's all-time RBI standings. The 36-year-old has now driven in 1,703 runs, 23rd in the sport's history.

Follow Pedro Moura on Twitter @pedromoura

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