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Trout's first walk-off HR completes Angels' rally

Three-run shot in ninth caps four-run outburst against Rays bullpen

ANAHEIM -- Mike Trout finally got his first walk-off hit Thursday night, and he did it in a major way.

Trout hit a three-run home run off Rays reliever Brad Boxberger to cap a four-run Angels rally in the ninth inning in a 6-5 victory at Angel Stadium.

"It's an unbelievable feeling when you can help your team like that," Trout said, after the Angels backed up a just-completed 5-1 road trip with the comeback victory in the first game of a 10-game homestand. "Our team's playing great right now. We've just got to keep it going.

"I've been struggling and other guys have been picking me up. I'm just trying to stay positive. My swings feel good."

It's been a tough May for the All-Star outfielder, whose average dipped to .269 coming into the game.

"If he is frustrated, he doesn't show it," manager Mike Scioscia said of Trout. "He just keeps moving on and making adjustments.

"Hopefully, he's gonna break out and start playing to his capabilities, because we need him."

The most-frustrated individual present had to be Rays closer Grant Balfour. He came on in the ninth to preserve a 5-2 lead for starter Erik Bedard, who allowed just two unearned runs through 5 2/3 innings in his bid for a third consecutive victory.

But Hank Conger and pinch-hitter Efren Navarro coaxed walks from Balfour, with Navarro battling back from an 0-2 count. Collin Cowgill then delivered an RBI single to chase Balfour in favor of Boxberger, who last week entered a game against Baltimore with the bases loaded and struck out the side on nine pitches.

"Those were unbelievable at-bats by Hank and Efren," Cowgill said. "That inning doesn't happen without those guys getting on. What they set up with those great at-bats made the hit and homer possible."

Scioscia was impressed with Cowgill's at-bat as well, terming it "great."

"Balfour's got a good slider, but Collin stayed on it and lined it into right," Scioscia said.

Cowgill's hit was also important in that it didn't allow Balfour to face Trout, as Rays manager Joe Maddon pulled his closer.

"I don't think I'd had success against Balfour before," said Trout, who is 0-for-6 lifetime against him, with four strikeouts. "I faced him a lot when he was with the A's. So I got the other guy."

Trout said he hit a 1-1 Boxberger changeup after seeing one for the first pitch, "and I saw it pretty good."

Boxberger said the second change "just trickled in and he was able to get to it."

Scioscia said "any player's going to have their ups and downs. Mike's been working hard the last 45-50 at-bats, trying to find a comfort zone."

For one swing at least, Trout was pretty comfortable with the ball flying over the left-field wall, setting off a wild celebration at the plate when he arrived.

Earl Bloom is a contributor to
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