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Figgins' walk-off hit pulls Angels closer in AL West

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Chone Figgins was struggling at the
plate, so Angels manager Mike Scioscia dropped his leadoff hitter
to ninth in the order a week ago. It's certainly taken some
pressure off Los Angeles' most versatile player.

Figgins singled home the winning run in the 11th inning, giving
the Angels a 4-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday
night and tightening up the AL West race.

"It takes me a long time to get to the plate now," Figgins
said with a grin after his sixth game in the 9-hole. "But it
doesn't bother me, as long as I'm getting an opportunity to play
and help the team win. I've been talking a lot to Garret Anderson
and he told me, 'There's nothing you can do about it. Just continue
to go up there and swing. Maybe you'll find the holes when the time
is right.' And lately, it's been the right time."

Bobby Jenks (3-4) gave up a leadoff single to Anderson in the
11th and pinch-runner Tommy Murphy advanced on a sacrifice bunt by
pinch-hitter Reggie Willits. Adam Kennedy batted for Jose Molina
and was intentionally walked. Howie Kendrick grounded into a force
at second, but Figgins lined a 2-0 pitch to center for the
game-winning hit.

"It's tough to come through in a big moment," Figgins said.
"I was just looking for a pitch to drive and hit it hard
somewhere. I'm glad I was able to get an opportunity to contribute
tonight. The guys stuck together and we pulled out a big one."

Hector Carrasco (5-3) allowed one hit over two innings for the
win. Juan Rivera hit a two-run homer in the first inning for the
Angels, but grounded into double plays in the eighth and 10th with
the potential go-ahead run in scoring position.

Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez walked Paul Konerko with one
out in the ninth, and pinch-runner Jerry Owens advanced to third on
a line drive by A.J. Pierzynski that fooled right fielder Vladimir
Guerrero and sailed over his head for a single. But Joe Crede
struck out and Rob Mackowiak grounded out on K-Rod's 24th pitch of
the inning, extending the right-hander's scoreless streak to 29 1/3
innings.

"We had a few chances tonight but we didn't do any damage,"
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "K-Rod's thrown the ball
good all year long and he's been a big key for them. When you come
to the West Coast, a lot of people ask why you struggle. It's
because of the pitching. The Angels have a real respectable
bullpen, one of the best in the game."

Los Angeles won for the eighth time in 10 tries and trimmed
Oakland's lead in the division to 4½ games. The Athletics lost 7-5
at Minnesota, leaving the defending World Series champion White Sox
four games behind AL Central-leading Detroit and 2½ behind the
Twins in the wild-card race.

"It stinks, obviously," Mackowiak said. "We don't look
forward to falling back even more, but it seems like Minnesota wins
every day. So we can't really afford to lose too many more. All we
can do is come back tomorrow and be ready to play."

Ervin Santana took a three-hit shutout into the fifth before the
White Sox grabbed a 3-2 lead on Mackowiak's RBI single and a
bases-loaded, two-run single by Tadahito Iguchi. The Angels tied it
in the sixth against Mark Buehrle on Anderson's bloop single.

Buerhle allowed three runs and eight hits over seven innings.
The left-hander became the first pitcher in White Sox history to
make 30 or more starts in six consecutive seasons, but he didn't
have much time to enjoy the moment -- just 17 pitches.

His next delivery was about a foot off the ground and inside,
but Rivera managed to get the barrel of the bat on it and golfed it
just inside the left-field pole for his 22nd home run after a
two-out walk to Guerrero. Rivera came in 3-for-20 lifetime against
Buehrle.

Santana allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings,
striking out five and walking one.

Game notes
Buehrle gave up a single after Rivera's homer, then retired
his next eight batters on groundballs. ... Buehrle has allowed 31
homers, two fewer than his career-worst in 2004. He is 5-10 in 21
starts when he gives up a home run, and 7-2 in nine starts when he
doesn't. ... Chicago DH Jim Thome needs one home run to join Alex
Rodriguez as the only players in major league history to hit 40 or
more with three teams. ... Scott Podsednik was 26-for-28 on steal
attempts of third base with the White Sox before Molina threw him
out in the fifth. ... Los Angeles had lost its previous seven home
games to the White Sox, a drought that began with the final three
games of the ALCS. ... The Angels have a one-game lead over Chicago
in the all-time regular-season series since their first meeting in
1961 (321-320).