Halos hold steady in AL West with 7-run 8th

Trout's RBI triple keys late uprising to help maintain eight-game lead

Halos hold steady in AL West with 7-run 8th

ARLINGTON -- Three games, three cities, 35 runs. The Angels' high-powered offense -- the one that scorched through the first half and had been waiting to come alive since the All-Star break -- is back.

"It's been really impressive," leadoff hitter Kole Calhoun said after Tuesday's 9-3 win over the Rangers, their third straight lopsided victory after blowout wins in Minneapolis and Cleveland.

The Angels (89-55), who are a season-best 34 games over .500 after their season-high-tying sixth straight win, have outscored the Twins, Indians and Rangers by 25 runs over the last three games, even though their cleanup hitter, Josh Hamilton, hasn't played since Thursday because of a stiff right shoulder.

"They keep grinding it," manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's good to see these guys come alive. It's taken a lot of pressure off our bullpen."

Colby Lewis held the Angels to one run over the first seven innings in the opener of a three-game series at Globe Life Park, keeping pace with Hector Santiago, who pitched five innings of one-run ball before Scioscia turned to his lights-out bullpen.

As Calhoun said, "It seemed like all night we were just kind of waiting for that big hit."

What followed was a big inning, a top of the eighth that saw them bat around for the third straight game and amass seven runs. It marked only the second time in franchise history that the Angels have plated six-plus runs in one frame in three straight games, a feat also accomplished by the 2007 team.

"It's obviously a potent offense," Collin Cowgill said of a unit that leads the Majors with 697 runs. "Everybody's contributing. Everybody's hot at the same time right now, and that's what this offense is capable of."

Cowgill led off with an infield single, prompting Rangers manager Tim Bogar to go to his bullpen. With one out, Mike Trout hit a triple into the right-center-field gap, giving him 103 RBIs and providing an insurance run. After loading the bases, Erick Aybar hit a two-out flare down the right-field line that fell in for a ground-rule double to score a couple runs. Two batters later, pinch-hitter Gordon Beckham drew a bases-loaded walk against Robbie Ross Jr. and Cowgill, who started the inning, followed with a bases-clearing triple.

The Angels were the only team in baseball to average more than five runs per game in the first half. In the 45 games that followed, that number dipped to 3.76 per game, ranked 24th in the Majors.

Then, they scored 50 runs in a five-game stretch.

"I feel like we're where we were at before the All-Star break," Santiago said after notching his fifth win, despite being pulled with 79 pitches. "We were scoring eight or nine runs. It was impressive. The last three games, we're right there. Everyone is hitting. Today it took a little longer to come around, but we ended up putting nine on the board."

The Angels have won 12 of their last 14, losing only in back-to-back games to the Astros at Minute Maid Park last week, and they are tied with the World Series-champion 2002 team for the best record in club history through 144 games. In the last 31 days, they've gained 12 games in the American League West, leading the A's by eight with 18 left to play. The Halos' magic number to clinch the division is 11 games.

"We're extremely confident," Calhoun said. "I think we've been a confident team all season long, but we're in the stretch run and this is crunch time, and every win right now is big."

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.