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Renfroe’s 10th-inning homer gives Halos ‘needed’ win in finale

TORONTO — Sometimes all it takes is just one.

Hunter Renfroe came through in a huge way on Sunday afternoon launching a two-run homer in the top of the 10th inning to lift the Angels to a much-needed 3-2 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

That extra-inning blast snapped Los Angeles’ 0-for-27 skid with runners in scoring position in the series. It also helped the visitors avoid a series sweep and move within four games of Toronto in the AL Wild Card chase.

“It was a big one,” manager Phil Nevin said. “Hunter has really been swinging the bat well the last four or five days. He gets on these hot streaks. We lost two out of three, so that’s not what we wanted to do, but to say this one was needed, that’s an understatement.”

But the bats went quiet at the worst possible times in three straight games before Renfroe delivered a two-run blast off reliever Yimi García in the top of the 10th inning. It came on an 0-1 curveball that García left up, and Renfroe deposited it over the left-field fence for his 17th homer of the season. Renfroe looked into the dugout after his homer to celebrate the moment with his teammates.

“It was great,” Renfroe said. “It’s huge. I wasn’t really trying to hit a homer. I really just wanted to [drive a] guy in. I just wanted to hit one to the outfield and get the run and do my job.”

The two-run longball proved to be crucial, as closer Carlos Estévez came back out for a second inning in the bottom of the 10th. Estévez gave up a run on a leadoff single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but he was able to escape the two-on, no-out jam with a pair of strikeouts and a flyout to preserve the win.

“We really pitched well,” Estévez said. “I think we capitalized on our pitching and Renfroe came up clutch. It was a total team effort. Everyone knows we were playing a good team and we’re in the Wild Card race. Knowing we could cut down on the lead they have on us was really big.”

Renfroe also brought home the only other run for the Angels, on a sacrifice fly in the third inning that gave them an early lead. Lefty starter Tyler Anderson gave up a run on an RBI single from Whit Merrifield to tie the game in the fifth.

Still, Anderson turned in one of his best outings of the season, allowing one run on seven hits and two walks with two strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings. It was the second-longest start of the year for Anderson, who finally got his ERA under 5.00 for the first time since his second start of the season on April 8.

“I just wanted to compete and give us a chance,” Anderson said. “It felt like we were in there every game. I think the only thing missing was a couple of big hits with runners on. But we grinded through some innings and some at-bats. We were only a few big hits away from winning the series.”

Even after the victory, it doesn’t get any easier for the Angels, who now head to Atlanta for a three-game series against the Braves, the owners of the best record in the Majors. When the Halos get home on Thursday, they will start a seven-game homestand against the contending Mariners and Giants. It’s part of a difficult August schedule before things ease up a bit in September.

But salvaging the series with a win gives the Angels some optimism that they can keep it going and remain in contention while several key players are expected to return from injury in August. Los Angeles suffered yet another tough injury on Saturday, when outfielder Taylor Ward sustained facial fractures after being hit in the face by a pitch. Ward was placed on the 10-day IL on Sunday.

“We’ve had a lot injuries that hurt us a lot, and Ward going down is tough for us,” Renfroe said. “But as many [wins] as we can pull off before we get our guys back is huge. It’s going to be great for us and we’re going to make a huge run.”

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