Halos tee off on O's pitching in victory

Halos tee off on O's pitching in victory

Halos tee off on O's pitching in victory
BALTIMORE -- Power was something the Angels knew they had, but hadn't received much of this season.

If only they played in Camden Yards more often.

It was here, in the thin air and short dimensions of the Orioles' home ballpark, where the Angels' offense provided a rare power surge on Tuesday night, setting season highs with four homers and 17 hits to give starter C.J. Wilson more than enough cushion in a 7-3 victory.

The Angels have now won 12 of their last 16 games, are a Major League-best 35-19 since April 28 and sit a season-best eight games over .500.

But they had done very little of that winning with the home run ball.

"I think everyone's been feeding off everybody else," outfielder Mark Trumbo said. "Our starting pitching's been fantastic, as has our bullpen. It's up to us as hitters to give them enough runs to feel comfortable, and that's exactly what we got tonight."

It didn't look like a night for hitters as the Angels took the field for batting practice, but as the sun came down, the wind picked up. And suddenly balls were flying everywhere.

Albert Pujols homered, giving him one against every Major League team except the Cardinals, with whom he spent the first 11 seasons of his career.

Trumbo went deep for his 18th of the year.

Peter Bourjos joined in on the fun, connecting on his second homer in as many days while getting some rare playing time.

And John Hester went wild, notching three hits for the first time in his career while also homering -- one of six by both teams in a stadium that ranks sixth in the Majors in home run rate this year.

The Angels thought they'd put together a lot of these nights going into the year. Instead, they came into this series ranked seventh in the American League in home runs and eighth in slugging percentage.

"We have more slugging percentage in this team," manager Mike Scioscia said, "and hopefully as the season goes on, we're going to start to see it."

What Scioscia has seen a lot of is the starting staff -- statistically the best in the AL -- pitch deep into games.

Wilson continued that trend on Tuesday, but it wasn't easy. He gave up six hits, only struck out two batters, gave up a homer to Steve Pearce on a get-me-over fastball and put six runners in scoring position between the fourth and sixth innings.

But, as Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said, "There's a reason why he's one of the best pitchers in the league and has a low ERA."

As he has so often this season, Wilson got out of those jams unscathed, finishing with one run allowed in seven innings to lower his ERA to 2.36 and extend his winning streak to five.

"You walk enough guys, you have enough guys on base, it's sink or swim, you have to figure it out," Wilson said. "I'm not happy about it. I felt like I was in command of the game first couple of innings, and something happened in the fourth that just sort of went a little bit awry, and it took me three innings to really find it. In the seventh inning, I was finally back to my groove. Just frustrating, because it was my last inning."

The Angels frustrated O's pitchers all night, hitting two homers off Brian Matusz -- who gave up a career-high 13 hits in five-plus innings -- and one each off Tommy Hunter and Kevin Gregg.

Pujols was first, connecting on a 1-0 fastball for a two-run shot to left-center field that gave him 12 on the year. Pujols was making his first appearance at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and, with his fifth-inning homer, has now hit regular-season homers against every Major League team except the Rangers -- who he hit three homers against in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series -- and Cardinals.

"He sure didn't wait very long," Trumbo said. "That's why he's the best hitter in this era."

Bourjos then followed it up with a two-run shot with none out in the sixth, ending Matusz's night, handing the Angels a 5-1 lead and continuing to state his case for more playing time.

"I'm going out there and trying to keep it simple -- look for a pitch I can hit and not try to do too much with it," Bourjos said.

In the top of the seventh, Trumbo hit a solo shot to straightaway center field to pad his team lead in that department.

And then, just for good measure, Hester hit a solo homer to left field in the eighth, putting the finishing touches on a monster offensive showing against the team that released him in April.

"I don't need any extra reason to get up for a game," Hester said about getting back at his former club. "Besides, I don't know if I'd be here if they didn't release me."

The Angels' victory kept them 4 1/2 games back of the AL West-leading Rangers.

After playing 18 of their previous 24 games at home, the Angels are now in a stretch that will see them play 16 of their next 20 on the road, a scenario that has yielded 12 wins in their last 13 games.

"We have to be able to have a winning record [on the road] if we're going to win the amount of games required to get to the top of the West," Wilson said. "The Rangers are a great team. They're not going to start just, like, losing all of a sudden. They might have health issues, but they're still going to find guys to plug the holes up, so we have to try to win every day."

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