Angels crush three homers in rout of Twins

Kendrick, Trout and Cron go yard as Halos seal sweep in Minnesota

Angels crush three homers in rout of Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- Sometimes they piece it together with their bullpen, sometimes they have to rally late and play extra innings, sometimes they get the benefit of a dominant start and sometimes, like Sunday's 14-4 rout of the Twins, their high-profile offense flexes its muscle and shows you how potent it can be.

Somehow, someway, the Angels just keep winning.

Their latest thrashing gave them a four-game sweep of the lowly Twins, moving them a season-best 32 games above .500 and pushing their lead over the reeling A's in the American League West to seven games, with only 20 remaining. The Angels have now swept five four-game series this season, a franchise record.

"Not easy to do," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Four-game series are tough, especially on the road. It's a grind; it's tough to win them and it's really tough to sweep. We've hit some teams when we've been playing good baseball and been able to keep some things rolling."

On an afternoon when their cleanup hitter, Josh Hamilton, was scratched with lingering pain near his neck and their No. 2 starter, C.J. Wilson, required more than 50 pitches to record the game's first six outs, the Angels racked up a season-high 19 hits and belted three home runs.

The Angels and Twins were tied on eight separate occasions over the last three nights, but the series finale saw the road team amass 11 runs from the start of the fifth to the end of the seventh and run away with it.

"We were facing a very good baseball team that can swing the bat really good," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who went 0-7 against the Angels this season. "We hung in there the first three games and had our chances, but today they pretty much dominated us. They beat the ball all over the place."

The Angels blew the game open by scoring six sixth-inning runs -- their sixth six-run frame of the season. In addition, seven of their players finished with multi-hit games.

Erick Aybar went 2-for-4 with a sacrifice fly in his third straight game; Mike Trout went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer that gave him 32 homers and 102 RBIs on the season; Albert Pujols went 2-for-4 while driving in his 88th run; Howie Kendrick went 3-for-4 with a 433-foot homer and four RBIs; Shawn O'Malley went 2-for-2 in his Major League debut; C.J. Cron went 2-for-3 with his 10th homer; and Efren Navarro went 2-for-2 despite not even entering the game until the sixth inning.

David Freese entered Target Field in an 0-for-20 slump and went 7-for-14 with four doubles in the series. Kendrick went 10-for-18, with seven hits, seven RBIs and two triples on Saturday and Sunday.

"We've kind of been hit or miss," Kendrick said of the offense, "but we've been winning ballgames. That's kind of the key thing. Whether we get a lot of hits or a couple hits, all it comes down to is us winning the game. We've been able to have a bunch of close games and come out on top. We started the second half a little slower than we'd like [offensively], but it looks like things are picking up. Hopefully, we can continue to do what we've been doing over the rest of this road trip."

Wilson entered with a 4.66 ERA, was coming off allowing five runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Astros and started the game by giving up three runs on three hits and three walks in the first couple of innings, while throwing only 27 of his 51 pitches for strikes. But he stuck to his game plan, relied heavily on an effective cutter and picked up momentum, retiring 11 in a row at one point and 15 out of 16 to get through 6 1/3 innings, all while the offense stepped on the gas pedal.

The Angels have won 10 of their last 12, hold a four-game lead on the Orioles for the best record in the Majors and are just one game off their best ever pace through 142 games.

"The energy's really good," Wilson said. "We're not discouraged if we get behind a run or two. And that's reality. We're going to give up runs. Not everybody's going to go out there and throw a shutout every time. The hitters really are going in the right direction right now."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for 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.