Angels closer Ernesto Frieri a key to Saturday night win over Red Sox

Somewhat lost in a dramatic 9-7 come-from-behind victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night, a game in which the Angels scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the score and won it on Josh Hamilton’s two-run home run in the 11th, was a superb outing by Angels closer Ernesto Frieri.

Frieri, who had gone five days without pitching, struck out Jonny Gomes and Dustin Pedroia in a scoreless ninth and then struck out the side — David Ortiz, Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava — in the 10th.

The key, Frieri said, was a little alteration he made last week in his pregame routine to accommodate for the down time between appearances — throwing 15-20 pitches off a bullpen mound. The right-hander usually only throws off flat ground before games.

“I don’t want to feel too strong,” said Frieri, who entered Sunday night’s game against Boston  with a 3.03 earned-run average in 37 games and 21 saves in 23 opportunities. “When I’m too strong, I don’t know where the ball is going.”

Frieri, who has struggled to master a second pitch to complement his lively 95-mph fastball, was pleased with the slider he used to whiff Napoli.

“He was swinging fastball, and he looked surprised,” said Frieri, who will be available Sunday night. “That means I did everything right. I’m getting more confident in that pitch.”


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