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Rivera returns from DL, homers in 9th as Angels sweep Padres

August 16, 2018
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Los Angeles Angels' Rene Rivera hits a home run during the ninth inning against the San Diego Padres in a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — In his first game back from a knee injury, Rene Rivera was big trouble for his old team.

Rivera hit a go-ahead homer in the ninth inning after a long stay on the disabled list, and the Los Angeles Angels completed a three-game sweep of the San Diego Padres with a 3-2 victory Wednesday night.

Reinstated from the 60-day DL before the game, Rivera connected for a solo shot into the second deck in left field against San Diego closer Kirby Yates (4-1). The former Padres catcher had missed 76 games with right knee inflammation.

“It’s awesome to come back after three months and help the team to win a game,” Rivera said. “First, I’m glad to be back and have an opportunity to play, and winning the game today is great.”

Yates, who took over as closer when Brad Hand was traded to Cleveland, had allowed only two earned runs in 21 innings pitched at Petco Park this season.

“I just threw a good pitch, and he hit it,” Yates said. “Just come back tomorrow and get back at it.”

After the Angels sent starting catcher Martin Maldonado to Houston at the July 31 trade deadline, Rivera will have an opportunity to contribute more.

“We just brought him back and knew he had to get his timing down,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “To jump right in like that, that’s a huge home run obviously.”

Jose Alvarez (5-3) pitched a scoreless eighth to earn the win for the Angels, their seventh in nine games. The sweep was Los Angeles’ sixth of the season.

Blake Parker retired the side in the ninth for his 12th save.

Cory Spangenberg erased an Angels lead in the seventh with a solo home run that tied the game at 2.

Andrelton Simmons singled home David Fletcher in the sixth to put Los Angeles in front 2-1.

Both teams scored in the first inning. Albert Pujols drove in Kole Calhoun, who led off the game with a single, with a sacrifice fly against Padres lefty Robbie Erlin.

San Diego answered with a sacrifice fly from Hunter Renfroe that brought home Travis Jankowski.

Felix Pena pitched six solid innings for the Angels, allowing one unearned run on two hits while walking four and striking out seven.

“I think Felix did a great job,” Scioscia said. “He kept getting better as the game went on. The only fly in the ointment is four walks, but he stepped up.”

Erlin and Pena traded scoreless innings until the sixth, when Simmons broke through for Los Angeles.

“He pitched great,” Rivera said of Pena. “He kept the ball down and elevated when he wanted to elevate. He was keeping the hitters off balance and did a good job today.”

Shohei Ohtani pinch-hit in the ninth and struck out swinging against Yates.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Angels: Ohtani threw at full strength in his second bullpen session since injuring his right elbow in June. The two-way rookie star from Japan said his arm felt good and he was able to throw all his pitches. “I did throw 100 percent effort, but obviously it is going to be different from a game situation,” Ohtani said through a translator. “I can’t say for sure until I see how my body feels tomorrow.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Angels optioned RHP Odrisamer Despaigne and C Jose Briceno to Triple-A Salt Lake, and designated RHP Akeel Morris for assignment.

UP NEXT

Angels: Open a four-game series in Texas on Thursday. The club had not yet announced a starting pitcher. RHP Ariel Jurado (2-2, 5.66 ERA) will take the mound for the Rangers.

Padres: RHP Jacob Nix (1-0) makes his second start in the majors Thursday against Arizona, looking to follow up a debut in which he threw six scoreless innings. RHP Clay Buchholz (5-2, 2.67) goes for the Diamondbacks.

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