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Angels

Cliff Pennington caps Angels’ seven-run rally in ninth to beat Seattle, 10-9

These things happen. Happen like a superhero movie flops at the box office or teenagers act all appreciative.

Crazy, implausible, stupid comebacks happen in sports. Just not often. Not like the wild ride the Angels went on to score seven runs in the bottom of the ninth to stun the Seattle Mariners 10-9 on Sunday afternoon.

The Angels looked like roadkill after trailing 8-1 in the seventh inning. The crowd thinned. Realists puffed their chests. And then had jaws drop as the Angels went about their comeback.

They trailed 9-3 going into the bottom of the ninth when the earth shook beneath the Mariners. There were four walks and five hits, the last coming from unlikely hero Cliff Pennington, who shot his first pitch for a single into center field to drive in the winning run and complete the improbable comeback.

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“That’s one of those magical wins that will probably only happen a couple times a year,” Pennington said, “but it’s a good one.”

The game looked highly forgettable throughout most of the afternoon. Starter Matt Shoemaker was less than sharp, giving up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings.

The Angels managed only two hits against Hisashi Iwakuma in six innings, one an Andrelton Simmons home run.

There was little to indicate what was to come.

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“That was unbelievable,” Shoemaker said. “That was absolutely awesome. Those guys picked me up huge. I had a really, really sour day turn out sweet.”

The Angels started to chip away at the Mariners bullpen, picking up two runs on Jefry Marte’s single in the seventh inning.

Still, nothing really hinted at the ninth. Not even when Albert Pujols, who had twice flied out to the warning track, led off with his first home run of the season.

Then Pennington walked and reliever Casey Fien was looking highly vulnerable. C.J. Cron singled and Ben Revere walked to load the bases.

Seattle’s lead still at five runs, manager Scott Servais had seen enough and summoned closer Edwin Diaz.

It briefly seemed as if Diaz would restore order. He quickly got two outs, Danny Espinosa bouncing out to second base to drive in a run.

But the third out would never arrive. Yunel Escobar lined a double into right field to drive in two runs. The Angels trailed 9-7 with the heart of their order up.

“When we got to that point it was like, ‘OK, here we go,’ ” Pennington said. “The pressure is shifting back on them.”

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Diaz wavered. He threw a wild pitch to advance Escobar to third base and walked Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout to load the bases for Pujols, who hit a single past diving first baseman Danny Valencia to drive in two runs and tie the score 9-9.

Diaz had been struggling, throwing pitches in the dirt, but Pennington lined the first-pitch fastball for a single to drive in Trout with the winning run.

“Those are guys he’s being a little more careful with, trying to respect a little more,” Pennington said. “He was trying to make sure he made his pitch and he was missing. When I got up there I was expecting him to come right at me. I wasn’t expecting the same treatment. I was ready for a heater.”

It was the first time since Aug. 28, 1986, that the Angels scored at least seven runs in the ninth inning to win.

“We found some holes, those guys helped us with a couple of walks and we just had good at-bats all the way through,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “There was some incredible clutch hitting at the end.”

sports@latimes.com


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