Home News Zach Neto hits 2 home runs in series finale vs. Mariners

Zach Neto hits 2 home runs in series finale vs. Mariners

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ANAHEIM — After the Angels lost a third straight game against the Astros on June 3 and dropped back to .500 at 30-30, they could’ve kept sliding much like they did last year during a 14-game losing streak that essentially ended their season by mid-June.

But the Halos instead have been resilient, winning six of seven since then, including going 5-1 on their homestand against the Cubs and Mariners. Los Angeles capped it off behind rookie Zach Neto’s first career multihomer game, a three-hit performance from Shohei Ohtani and three RBIs from Matt Thaiss in a 9-4 win over Seattle in the series finale on Sunday at Angel Stadium.

“We finished with a win in Houston, and we brought it back home, going 5-1,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “It was a very nice week at home. That was a good baseball team over there. You’re going to see them until the end. They know what it takes. They’ve been places we haven’t been, and to beat a team like that is a shot in the arm for the whole room.”

The Angels now trail the Astros by just 1 1/2 games for the final AL Wild Card spot and continue to put themselves in a better position to be buyers at the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline. It’s obviously an important season, with Ohtani in the final year of his contract and Los Angeles aiming to make the postseason for the first time since 2014.

Ohtani had a huge homestand offensively, hitting .417 (10-for-24) with three homers, two doubles and five RBIs in six games, including a 3-for-5 Sunday. He also allowed three runs over five innings in a no-decision during Friday’s 5-4 win.

But he was far from the only one who contributed in the finale, as Neto homered twice for the first time in his career, Thaiss drove in three runs and Taylor Ward hit a leadoff homer. Mike Trout also snapped an 0-for-14 skid with a single as part of a three-run third inning and hit a sacrifice fly to the warning track to right field with the bases loaded in the fourth.

“We’re doing the right things,” Neto said. “We’re bringing guys in to score when we need to. We’re doing situational hitting. Our pitchers have been doing amazing. Our bullpen has been shutting it down. And our defense has been holding its own. We’re playing all-around good baseball, and that’s going to lead to wins.”

Right-hander Griffin Canning was given a six-run lead after three innings and allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits, including two homers, over five-plus innings. But he struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter while improving to 5-2 with a 4.56 ERA.

“It was good enough,” Canning said. “It kept the team in the game. We got out to a nice lead there. I just didn’t want to mess it up. It was a good team win. We’ve won six of the last seven. So can’t complain with that.”

The Angels posted a 3.33 ERA during their six-game homestand, but it was the bullpen that especially dominated. Angels relievers combined to post a 0.77 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings. They leaned heavily on veterans such as closer Carlos Estévez, Chris Devenski and Jacob Webb as well as youngsters such as José Soriano and Sam Bachman. Devenski exited another jam with inherited runners in the sixth, Soriano threw two scoreless innings and Jimmy Herget hurled a scoreless frame to end it on Sunday.

“It was a great week for us on the offensive side of the ball, and defensively and pitching,” Thaiss said. “The pitching staff really stepped up this week, especially the bullpen. Every guy out there came and did a great job, and we’re excited to get on the road.”

The Angels, though, have a tough series coming up, as they head to Texas to take on the first-place Rangers for a four-game set. Texas has been running away with the division and leads the Halos by 6 1/2 games, so it should be a good test for Los Angeles, much like last weekend in Houston.

“We’ve got a tough week ahead, but I will enjoy this one and get on the plane and go,” Nevin said. “We played well. We played clean games, although today we made a couple of mistakes defensively that let them back into it. But I think when we play our best and we play clean games and we swing the bats the way we are capable of, we can beat anybody.”

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