Thanks to a string of strong pitching performances, the Baltimore Orioles are back on track after a mid-month slump.
The Orioles try for their sixth straight win Thursday when they open a four-game road series with the Los Angeles Angels.
Baltimore (26-27) opened its 10-game road trip by sweeping three games in Kansas City, outscoring the Royals 18-3. The Orioles, who also won the final two games of their homestand against Oakland, have won five in a row in a single season for the first time since winning eight straight April 22-May 1, 2005.
Another win Thursday would put the Orioles back at .500 for the first time since they were 18-18 on May 11.
Baltimore starters have won all five games during the streak while posting a 2.00 ERA.
Brian Burres (2-2, 3.27 ERA), who starts Thursday’s opener, earned the first of those wins, allowing one run and three hits in six innings of Saturday’s 8-3 victory over Oakland. Burres, who was pitching on nine days’ rest, earned his second career win in his fourth start.
“He had good command,” manager Sam Perlozzo told the Orioles’ official team Web site. “He pitched strike one a lot (and) he didn’t get behind too many times. The times he did, he didn’t give up many hits. I thought that was the key for him. In the first three or four innings, he was pretty much throwing strikes and staying ahead of the hitters.”
The left-hander has never faced the Angels, who also enter this series playing good ball. Los Angeles (33-21) has won five of its last six, including Wednesday’s 8-6 victory over Seattle, while scoring 34 runs in that span.
Vladimir Guerrero’s three-run homer in the fifth inning put the Angels ahead to stay Wednesday. Los Angeles also got back-to-back home runs from Gary Matthews Jr. and Casey Kotchman in the first inning to help make up for a shaky outing by starter Jared Weaver.
“It’s good, because there are going to be sometimes when we’re not going to do well offensively and our pitchers pick us up and keep us in close ballgames,” Guerrero, whose homer was his first since May 17, said through a translator. “We have a good pitching staff, and hopefully all of us can contribute to them.”
Angels starter Kelvim Escobar (6-2, 2.64) will face an Orioles team averaging nearly seven runs per game during its winning streak.
Escobar has given up just one run in 15 innings over his last two starts, and is 5-1 in his last six outings. The right-hander limited the Yankees to one run in seven innings of Saturday’s 3-1 victory at New York.
He is 12-4 with nine saves and a 3.76 ERA in 33 career appearances, including 17 starts, against the Orioles.
The Angels swept the Orioles Sept. 4-6 in the last series between the teams, and have won seven of their last nine home meetings with Baltimore.