Cron's slam sets stage for Angels' eruption

Cron's slam sets stage for Angels' eruption

NEW YORK -- After two quiet days in Queens, the Angels' offense finally came alive on Sunday afternoon, erupting for 12 hits in a decisive 12-5 victory that denied the Mets a sweep at Citi Field.

C.J. Cron's grand slam off Mets left-hander Tommy Milone highlighted a five-run first for the Angels and helped set the tone for their big day at the plate. Cameron Maybin and Andrelton Simmons opened the game with back-to-back hits, and Milone intentionally walked Mike Trout to load the bases with no outs. Milone issued another free pass to Jefry Marte to force in one run, and Cron followed by blasting a first-pitch curveball to left-center field for his first home run of the season, staking the Halos a 5-0 lead before the Mets had even recorded an out.

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"To be able to put up five runs there in the first and kind of get the game rolling off to a good start, it felt good, for sure," said Cron, who entered Sunday hitting .222 in six games since returning from the disabled list.

The Angels' production in the first inning matched their total offensive output from their first two games against the Mets, when they scraped together five runs in a pair of losses and were hurt by the loss of cleanup hitter Albert Pujols, who was unavailable due to a sore right hamstring. Pujols missed his third straight game on Sunday, but the Angels flexed their power in his absence, launching a season-high four home runs and completing a homer cycle with a solo shot, a two-run homer, a three-run blast and a grand slam.

The Angels added a trio of runs off Milone in the second behind a two-run homer from Trout -- his 14th of the season -- and Marte's ensuing solo shot, giving right-hander Jesse Chavez an early eight-run cushion.

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"It doesn't usually happen like that," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "But early runs were big. It helped us to at least pitch with a little margin for error, which we needed."

Chavez, who had been battling a sinus issue, allowed just a pair of solo home runs through the first five innings, but he fell into trouble in the sixth after surrendering a three-run homer to Jay Bruce that cut the Angels' lead to 9-5 and brought the Mets within striking distance.

"Going into today, it shouldn't have been a problem, and it wasn't," Chavez said of his illness. "Just got a little ahead of myself in that sixth inning."

Still, Simmons delivered the final nail in the coffin by crushing a three-run homer off Hansel Robles in the seventh to put the Angels comfortably ahead, 12-5, and cap a productive day for the entire offense, which saw all of its position players reach base at least once. It was an encouraging sign for the Halos, whose .683 team OPS ranked 26th in the Majors entering the day.

"I think it's moving forward," Scioscia said. "We're at a part of the season where guys that have been getting at-bats -- you would hope if they aren't productive now they would [start to] be productive. We're past the quarter pole of the season. Hopefully guys are getting into their game. If they can, it's going to not always end up like this afternoon, but if we can, we can consistently beat that drum and pressure teams and get a consistent offense going."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.