By Brittany Ghiroli and Joshua Thornton
ANAHEIM -- The Angels used a big day from C.J. Cron, a solid five innings from Troy Scribner and some stellar relief to end their homestand on a high note with Wednesday's 5-1 series victory over the Orioles at Angel Stadium.
The win leapfrogs the Angels ahead of the Orioles to 2 games behind the Mariners in the race for the second American League Wild Card. The Halos, about to embark on a three-city road trip -- which includes a stop in Baltimore -- finish up their homestand with a record of 6-3 after a pair of encouraging back-to-back wins.
Clinging to a 2-1 lead, Cron -- who reached base three times -- delivered a first-pitch, two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning off of Orioles starter Kevin Gausman. He also scored the game's go-ahead run in the bottom of the fourth inning, on Cesar Puello's first Major League hit in his debut, a single. Puello also recorded his first two stolen bases, swiping second and third later that inning.
The Angels loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth inning, with closer Zach Britton coming on and issuing back-to-back walks to score Kole Calhoun.
Welington Castillo, who will wear the nickname "Beef" on the back of his jersey for Players Weekend, gave the O's their first hit of the afternoon with a third-inning solo blast. It was the only run Scribner would allow over his five innings, as the Angels righty fared well in his second Major League start.
"[Scribner] was in the strike zone," said Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who was the only hitter in the 1-6 spots in the lineup that had a hit. "He was throwing strikes and he made pitches when he needed to. He shut us down today and we'll forget about it and learn from it and try to go tomorrow and try to get some wins."
Gausman, who watched a string of four consecutive quality starts get snapped, went 5 1/3 innings and was charged with four earned runs.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Angels' clutch relay: After an interference call in the sixth inning moved Craig Gentry back to first base after an attempted steal, the outfielder tried to score on Schoop's single into center field. Ben Revere had other ideas, firing to shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who threw a strike home to catcher Juan Graterol to nab Gentry.
"It is pretty obvious that we're searching for runs there. You got an opportunity there so you take a pop at it," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of the send by third base coach Bobby Dickerson, with struggling Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo due up.
"That [the struggles of Davis and Trumbo] probably figures into his thinking. Bobby's as good as there is. You know with Trum, he is just coming back, there is some unknown there. Hopefully he and Chris get it going pretty soon."
Puello's debut: Recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake prior to the game, Puello didn't have to wait long for his first Major League hit. The outfielder singled into center field in his second at-bat, scoring Cron to give the Angels a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning.
"We didn't know much about [Puello]," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He joined our organization after the season started, we didn't get a chance to see him in the spring. But you see the energy he has. It's great to see a young kid come up and play the game of baseball. He got a big hit up the middle, stole a couple bags and did everything we wanted a player to do."
"Obviously they've been rolling for a while here and I think you have to give credit to what their pitchers were able to do. They really kept our guys off balance." -- Gausman, on the Orioles 1-for-6 hitters mustering just one hit all game
"I don't ever want to try to go up and in and hit a guy in the head. That's not my plan, but I do throw up a lot to hitters and I work in that area of the strike zone. It was scary to watch it and I hope he's OK." -- Scribner, on his pitch that hit O's right fielder Joey Rickard, who was OK postgame but will be re-examined
There was a crew chief challenge on Castillo's homer in the third inning, and the on-field call stood.
The Orioles also challenged Mike Trout's infield single in the bottom of the fifth, when he was ruled safe, and the on-field call also stood.
WHAT'S NEXT Orioles: The Orioles will head to Oakland for a four-game series against the A's. Wade Miley will take the mound for Thursday night's opener at 10:05 ET. He took a no-decision against the Tigers after giving up two runs on four hits (one homer) and three walks with five strikeouts over five innings Saturday.
Angels: The Angels head up north for a pivotal four-game series against the Mariners in a battle of two teams chasing a Wild Card spot. First pitch is slated for 7:10 p.m. PT on Thursday, with lefty Tyler Skaggs getting the call for the Halos.