CLEVELAND — Josh Naylor’s three-run homer highlighted Cleveland’s stunning comeback in the eighth inning as the Guardians rallied for an 8-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night.
Down 6-2 and seemingly headed for another disappointing loss, the Guardians scored six times in the eighth to pull off their most improbable win in a season that was sliding in the wrong direction for the defending AL Central champions.
Andres Giminez also homered in the eighth for Cleveland, which until that point had hit into some tough luck and hurt itself with bad baserunning.
The Guardians strung together four straight singles with Jose Ramirez and Josh Bell driving in runs off reliever Andrew Wantz. Naylor, who Angels manager Phil Nevin walked intentionally in the ninth on Friday, then connected on an 0-1 pitch from Ryan Tepera (2-2).
When Naylor’s fifth homer touched down in the right-field seats, Cleveland’s dugout exploded and a crowd of 27,644 fans, some of whom had been booing earlier in the inning, finally had something to get excited about.
Eli Morgan (2-0) pitched one inning to get the win on his 27th birthday. Trevor Stephan retired Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani to start the ninth before putting two runners on. The right-hander got Brandon Drury to ground out for his second save.
Mickey Moniak homered in his first at-bat this season and scored three runs for the Angels, who snapped their 10-game losing streak at Progressive Field on Friday and were in position to make it two straight wins before their bullpen flopped.
Zach Neto hit a two-run homer for Los Angeles.
Ohtani doubled home the first of two runs for Los Angeles in the third, when the Angels got a slight scare as superstar Mike Trout was hit with a pitch on the left elbow.
After Moniak walked and stole second, Trout took a 94.1 mph fastball flush in a gap in his protective padding. The three-time MVP grimaced in pain while walking to first, but stayed in and went to third on Ohtani’s hit.
Trout scored on Anthony Rendon’s sacrifice fly and he returned to his spot in center field wearing a compression sleeve.
Los Angeles turned a unique double play to keep Cleveland off the scoreboard in the first.
The Guardians had runners at second and third with one out when Bell hit a fly to medium right. Steven Kwan tagged at third and tried to score, but right fielder Hunter Renfroe made the catch and then a perfect throw to third to get a sliding Rosario before the run scored.
Guardians: C Mike Zunino (neck stiffness) missed his second straight start. He was available as a pinch-hitter and manager Terry Francona indicated he could be back in the lineup Sunday.
An 11:35 a.m. start in the series finale Sunday and a high school reunion between Angels LHP Patrick Sandoval (3-1, 3.41 ERA) and Guardians RHP Tanner Bibee (1-1, 4.30), who were teammates at Mission Viejo (Calif.).