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Molina, Kennedy spark Angels' rally vs. Twins

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Francisco Rodriguez wasn't about to let the Angels leave with another loss.

A day after his club-record streak of 22 straight save conversions ended in a game his team eventually lost, the Los Angeles closer was back in form -- keeping the Minnesota Twins from
another comeback.

Jose Molina's two-out double drove in pinch-runner Maicer Izturis to break an eighth-inning tie, Rodriguez got four outs for his fifth save and the Angels beat the Twins 6-4 on Thursday.

"I felt confident. I went out there and threw hard and made the right pitches," said Rodriguez, who struck out Lew Ford with two
runners on to end the eighth.

Minnesota rallied from a 9-4 deficit and forced extra innings by getting two hits, two walks and the tying run against Rodriguez in the ninth on Wednesday night. The Twins won it in the 10th.

Tony Batista, who went 3-for-4 with two RBI, singled with two outs in the ninth against the hard-throwing Rodriguez, who effectively mixed his fastballs and sliders, striking out Torii Hunter to end it.

"He's tough," Batista said. "The movement he's got, it makes you surprised sometimes."

Jesse Crain (1-0) threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings until Edgardo Alfonzo singled with two outs in the eighth. Izturis entered, Molina hit him in with the double and then Adam Kennedy followed with an RBI single to make it 6-4 -- after shortstop Nick Punto's throw home to get Izturis bounced away for an error and allowed Molina to move up.

Kevin Gregg (1-0), recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake the night before, threw four strong innings of relief and made a case to join the rotation next time with Bartolo Colon on the disabled list.

"They know what I can do. They know the stuff that I can offer. They know that I'm comfortable in that role. We'll see where it takes me," said Gregg, who gave up one run and three hits while walking two and stranding six runners.

Molina and Kennedy each had two hits and two RBI for the Angels, and Alfonzo also had his first two hits of the year -- and his first two for Los Angeles.

Minnesota's Rondell White went 2-for-4 with two RBI to raise his average to .127, and Luis Castillo went 3-for-4 with two runs scored before leaving with a sore right knee. Though they left 10 men on base, the Twins were pleased by winning six of nine at home after going 1-5 on a road trip to open the season.

"You hate to say you need anything in April, but we needed to come in and have a good homestand," right fielder Michael Cuddyer
said.

Hector Carrasco took Colon's turn in the rotation, a day after the Angels disabled their ace with shoulder inflammation. The 36-year-old Carrasco, on a 60-to-70 pitch limit, faced two batters in the fourth inning before giving the mound to Gregg.

Carrasco, a reliever with the Twins from 1998 to 2001 who was making only his seventh major-league start among 567 appearances, gave up four hits, three runs and three walks while striking out four in 72 pitches.

Out of baseball in 2002 and playing in Japan in 2004, Carrasco has added an effective cut fastball to his repertoire and renewed his career last season by posting a 2.04 ERA in 88 1/3 innings for Washington. He made five starts for the Nationals and held opponents to a .193 average.

Minnesota took a 3-1 lead against Carrasco in a 37-pitch first inning on an RBI single by Batista and a two-run, bases-loaded single by White. The Twins tied the game at 4 in the fifth against Gregg when Batista's single drove in Castillo from second base.

Minnesota starter Scott Baker, after silencing the New York Yankees in a 5-1 win last week, lasted only five innings. He gave up six hits, four runs, two earned, and struck out two against two walks.

As Garret Anderson scored in the fourth, second baseman Castillo tried to make a tough play on a grounder by Casey Kotchman and threw it away for an error -- letting Kotchman take second. Molina later drove him in with a single to tie it, and Kennedy's sacrifice fly made it 4-3.

The Angels were more patient than the Yankees were, making Baker work for nearly every out.

"They were definitely taking the balls and swinging at the strikes," Baker said.

Game notes
Minnesota's leadoff man and left fielder, Shannon Stewart,
left the team to be with his wife, Sharonda, who was due to give birth to the couple's first child. Ford filled in. ... Chone Figgins and Orlando Cabrera, the first two batters in the Angels' order, went a combined 0-for-10 after going 10-for-20 with two homers and eight RBI in the first two games here. ... The Twins
have made only five errors in 15 games, but two came in this one and three of them are by Castillo -- who won Gold Gloves each of the last three years with the Florida Marlins. Castillo, hurt beating out an infield hit in the seventh inning, is day-to-day.