Hunter homers twice, including walk-off grand slam, against Indians

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- From the moment he signed with the Los Angeles Angels, Torii Hunter said he and the Rally Monkey would be close friends and would go everywhere together. There's even one hanging in his locker.

Hunter got some good vibes from the stuffed animal he calls Rusty on Monday night, hitting a game-winning grand slam off Cleveland closer Joe Borowski in the ninth inning and a solo shot in the eighth to lead the Angels to a 6-4 victory over the Indians.

"I'm still trying to fit in and go out there and just be myself," Hunter said. "I'd say 75 percent of this game is mental, and I was so emotional back there in Minnesota. But when I came back here, I felt some peace and I was able to calm down and be myself a little bit. And it shows."

Hunter, who signed a five-year, $90 million free-agent contract with the Angels in November after leaving the Minnesota Twins, has 11 hits in his last 23 at-bats after opening the season 0-for-10 at the Metrodome.

Hunter hit a leadoff shot in the eighth off Rafael Betancourt to give the Angels a 2-1 lead, but Cleveland rallied for three runs off Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez in the top of the ninth.

Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta hit consecutive RBI doubles against Rodriguez after a leadoff walk to Travis Hafner. Borowski, whose 5.07 ERA last season was the highest ever by a pitcher with 40 or more saves, then gave it right back.

The right-hander surrendered a one-out walk to Gary Matthews Jr., a single to Vladimir Guerrero and another walk to Garret Anderson before Hunter drove a 1-0 slider just inside the left field pole for his 10th career slam, setting off a pulsating celebration.

Hunter was mobbed my his teammates at home plate, and the fans led a sustained ovation. When his teammates returned to the clubhouse, they doused him with beer.

"It was a nice celebration," the two-time All-Star said. "These are my new teammates, and it was a great thing. That's how chemistry starts."

It was the first game-ending grand slam by an Angels player since April 28, 2002, when David Eckstein did it against Toronto.

"Certainly Torii is capable of just about anything. He's an extremely good athlete and he's one of the best centerfielders around and he's a great hitter," Cleveland third baseman and former Minnesota teammate Casey Blake said. "I've played with Torii and played against him for a long time now, and nothing he does surprises me."

Rodriguez, looking for his fourth save, has been experiencing ankle problems after slipping off the top step of the dugout last week and tweaking his right ankle -- the one he pushes off with. It has caused him to alter his mechanics.

"It's really painful," Rodriguez said. "I couldn't locate my fastball and I had no power in my legs to push off. As soon as I lift my leg, all the pressure and all my weight is on my ankle, so I was trying to do it all with my arm."

Hunter's homer also allowed a streak of consecutive victories by the Angels in which they led after eight innings to continue. It is now at 162. They haven't lost under those circumstances since April 19, 2006, at Minnesota.

Rodriguez blew the lead three times last season when the Angels led after eight, but they came back to win every time to keep that streak intact.

"It's good to know that when you don't get the job done, those guys are going to pick you up. That's a good feeling," Rodriguez said.

Scot Shields (1-0) got the victory in his second appearance off the disabled list. He relieved Rodriguez in the ninth and gave up an RBI single to Blake before completing the inning.

Peralta homered in the fourth inning against Joe Saunders, who allowed a run and four hits over eight innings after pitching eight innings of four-hit ball in a 1-0 victory at Minnesota on Wednesday. The left-hander struck out five and walked two.

Martinez was back in the Cleveland lineup for the first time since straining his left hamstring on opening day, going 2-for-4.

Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona allowed an unearned run and four hits over six innings in his first career start against the Angels. The right-hander struck out three, walked five and escaped bases-loaded jams in the third and fifth innings -- one of them with the help of a blown call by first base umpire Larry Vanover.

Game notes
The Angels stole five bases against Martinez, who threw Matthews out trying to steal in the seventh. ... The way the Cleveland rotation is set up, the Angels won't face C.C. Sabathia in this series. Only once since 2002 has a reigning Cy Young winner pitched against the Halos in Anaheim. That was on July 6, 2005, when Johan Santana allowed nine hits and six runs over 6 1-3 innings and gave up a three-run homer to Anderson in Minnesota's 7-6 loss. ... Angels 2B Howie Kendrick left the game with a jammed right thumb after he was retired on a comebacker for the last out of the fourth.