Angels' bats pick up Heaney

Angels' bats pick up Heaney

ANAHEIM -- The Angels won despite a clunky outing from their starting pitcher on Friday night, and that hasn't happened all too often this season.

That's why their 8-4, series-opening win against the Orioles was so encouraging.

The Angels played standout defense, most notably the outfield assists by Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun in the third inning. They got a strong effort from their bullpen, especially Trevor Gott, the young reliever who recorded five consecutive outs. And, most prevalent of all, they got big hits from struggling players.

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Trout, 1-for-20 to start August, went 2-for-3 with a home run (his third on his birthday) and two walks. David Murphy (4-for-23 with the Angels) and Erick Aybar (2-for-22 heading in) picked up a couple of singles. Chris Iannetta, with one hit in his last 16 at-bats, drove in the winning run in the sixth inning. And David DeJesus followed with an RBI single, his second hit in 22 at-bats since joining the Angels.

"It's great," Iannetta said. "We have a lot of really good players on this team; we really do. We have two really good players in Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, and I think everyone knows that, but the rest of the guys are really good."

The Angels hadn't shown that of late, though. They lost nine of 10 immediately after winning 17 of 20 and batted .194 amid a six-game losing streak through Houston and Los Angeles last week. But they've won three of their last four games, putting them 1 1/2 back of the Astros in the American League West while still atop the AL Wild Card race.

On Wednesday afternoon, they won in thrilling, walk-off fashion on a two-out, two-run single by C.J. Cron and an ensuing wild pitch.

Cron's long two-run blast

After an off-day, they played one of their best all-around games in quite a while.

"We kept staying positive," Trout said. "We told ourselves we have 60 more games left. We just stayed positive, didn't get down on ourselves."

Angels starter Andrew Heaney entered 5-1 with a 1.97 ERA, but gave up 10 hits -- two of them well-struck homers -- and exited with two on and two outs in the top of the sixth. Fernando Salas entered and struck out Nolan Reimold, putting his inherited-runners-scoring percentage at 22 percent, one year after it was a whopping 75 percent.

The next half-inning, a team batting .235 over its previous nine games with runners in scoring position came through with two outs.

Johnny Giavotella lined a single to put runners on first and second, Iannetta followed with a two-run double deep into the left-center-field gap and DeJesus came up with a line-drive single to right field. Two innings later, Cron hit a majestic shot -- 456 feet away, according to Statcast™ -- to give the Angels their first pinch-hit homer since July 2014.

They finished with 13 hits, their highest output since July 26 in Texas.

"We had a deep look to our lineup tonight," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Those guys pressured them every inning."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.