ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -Catching depth is a primary reason why the injury-plagued Los Angeles Angels are still hovering near the top of the AL West.
Bobby Wilson's promotion from Triple-A not only has filled the gap created by Jeff Mathis' broken right wrist, but it's allowed Mike Napoli to take off the mask and fill in occasionally at first base with Kendry Morales out for the season.
Wilson drove in three runs on Wednesday with his first major league homer and Napoli also connected, helping Joel Pineiro beat the Milwaukee Brewers 5-1.
The Angels are 9-1 when Wilson is the starting catcher, and the pitching staff has a 2.90 ERA when he is flashing the signals.
``That's what I'm here for. That's my main job and I understand that. Hopefully we're going to keep that ERA down and keep those wins going up,' Wilson said. ``We've had our struggles and we've had to talk about some things. But for the most part, it comes from catching their bullpens, talking to them between their starts, and understand what they're trying to do and where you need to be set up with certain pitches. Being vocal with them has been the biggest thing.'
Pineiro (6-6) pitched three-hit ball for eight innings, allowing only one hit after Carlos Gomez homered to lead off the third. And he gave much of the credit to his batterymate.
Wilson ``had a great idea behind the plate,' Pineiro said. ``He studies the game good. He goes over his reports and video, and he knows what he's doing back there. He's very aggressive and intense, and he keeps you in the ballgame. So if he sees that you're slightly off, he kind of gets you right back on track. He also got that big home run today to give me some support.'
Pineiro won his third straight start after going 1-5 with a 7.55 ERA over his previous eight outings.
``We have a lot of right-handers, and he's very tough on righties,' Brewers slugger Prince Fielder said. ``I'm usually the only lefty in the lineup, so he can pitch extra tough to me because of doesn't really doesn't have to come in because of the fact that there's so many righties. And they have a tough time, anyway, because of his sinker. So it's a battle for all of us every time he pitches against us, because he's really locked in.'
Napoli, batting in the second spot for the first time this season, hit a solo home run in the first off Chris Narveson (5-4).
The Angels made it 4-0 in the second when Wilson sent a drive into the second tier of the double-deck bullpen in left field.
``It was a good feeling,' said Wilson, who played briefly for the Angels during the previous two seasons. ``It was nice to get it out of the way and help the team get a W. Hopefully, it's the first of many.'
Narveson gave up five runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings in his 10th start of the season, after pitching a career-high seven innings last Friday in a 6-2 win against Texas. The left-hander, who began the season in the Brewers' bullpen, is 4-4 with a 5.53 ERA since replacing Jeff Suppan in the rotation.
Fielder went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts as the designated hitter. He had started each of his previous 307 games at first base. Fielder has played in 251 consecutive games overall, the longest active streak in the majors.
``Playing in the National League, I wasn't going to get a chance to DH again. And I don't take days off. So I figured it would be a good time to get a little breather,' Fielder said. ``DH-ing still gives me a chance to still be in the game, so it was a good move. I mean, it wasn't an out-of-body experience by any means, but it was all right.'
Brewers outfielder Jim Edmonds started at first base for the first time since June 7, 2006, with St. Louis.
``I tried not to put too much pressure on myself,' said Edmonds, who has won eight Gold Gloves as the outfield. ``It was a great opportunity for me to play first and let Prince rest his legs, because he gets another day off tomorrow.'
Angels third baseman Brandon Wood, who came off the disabled list on Tuesday, started at shortstop for the first time this season. Naturally, each of Milwaukee's first three batters hit the ball to him. His throw to first on Rickie Weeks' grounder was in the dirt, but Napoli prevented an error with a backhanded scoop. Wood then caught Corey Hart's line drive and retired Ryan Braun on a grounder in the hole.
NOTES: After the game, the Angels designated reserve OF Michael Ryan for assignment. No corresponding move was announced, because the club is waiting to see if Mathis is ready to come off the DL. ... The Brewers who took the first two games of the series by 12-2 and 7-1 scores, haven't swept a three-game set at Anaheim since September 1988 - 10 years before the Brewers shifted from the AL to the NL. This was only their second series at the Big A since changing leagues. ... Pineiro is 4-0 with a 2.98 ERA against the Brewers.
The Associated Press News Service
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