Angels 4, Orioles 2
Escobar kept Baltimore’s potent offense in check for seven innings and Eckstein’s speed forced reliever Jason Grimsley into a throwing error that led to three unearned runs, helping the Angels beat the Orioles 4-2.
Escobar (7-8) improved to 12-3 against the Orioles in his career, allowing a run and six hits in seven innings. It was only the third time in the right-hander’s last 11 starts that the Angels scored more than three runs.
“I didn’t really pay attention to the score,” he said. “I just kept doing what I was doing and kept the game close because I knew that sooner or later we could make something happen and win the ballgame.”
The Angels averaged just 3.8 runs in his previous 22 starts this season.
“Every time I go out there and the team wins, I feel good,” Escobar said. “It’s always good to get a `W’ when you’re working hard enough to deserve it. Good pitching can stop good hitters, and that’s what I did tonight.”
Escobar struck out seven and walked two in winning back-to-back games for the first time in more than three months—after losing six of his previous seven decisions. He humbled an offense that got a season-high 20 hits one night earlier en route to an 11-3 win, and stopped its eight-game winning streak.
“What makes him so tough is that he throws 97 at the knees,” Baltimore’s B.J. Surhoff said. “He’s got good stuff. He mixed up his pitches pretty well, kept the ball down, got ahead in the count and had good movement on both sides of the plate with his fastball.”
Vladimir Guerrero’s tying leadoff homer in the sixth against rookie Eric Bedard allowed Escobar to stick around long enough for the victory.
After Jose Molina doubled with one out in the seventh, Grimsley (4-6) fielded Eckstein’s comebacker and looked Molina back to second before pulling first baseman Rafael Palmeiro off the bag with a high throw.
“It’s one of those situations that when you hit the ball, all you can do is run,” Eckstein said. “After that poor swing I took, and didn’t think I’d end up on base. I haven’t seen something like that in a while. Taking advantage of it was very big.”
Molina and Eckstein both advanced on Chone Figgins’ groundout to second. B.J. Ryan came in and loaded the bases with an intentional walk to Guerrero before Garret Anderson slapped a 2-1 pitch to left field, scoring two and putting the Angels ahead 3-1. Jose Guillen followed with an RBI single.
“It’s a good sign when you see Garret do what he did there—stay on a pitch and drive it the other way in the hole in a situation like that,” manager Mike Scioscia said.
Guerrero’s homer was his 25th homer, matching his total from last season with Montreal, when he missed 6 1/2 weeks because of a herniated disk in his back.
Escobar and Bedard matched zeros until the fifth, when Guillen misplayed Brian Roberts’ two-out double down the left-field line into three bases for his third error of the season and David Newhan singled.
Bedard allowed a run and three hits in 5 2-3 innings with six strikeouts and four walks. The left-hander stranded runners at second base in the second, fourth and fifth innings. But it wasn’t enough to prolong the Orioles’ longest winning streak since a 13-game stretch in 1999.
“Aside from today, our defense has been much better, our starting pitchers have been dramatically improved from the beginning of the year, and we’ve been swinging the bats pretty well,” Surhoff said. “But you’re going to run into good pitchers, like tonight. The game came out to a two-out RBI. They got it and we didn’t.”
Anaheim’s Robb Quinlan went 0-for-3, ending his 21-game hitting streak. … Escobar has allowed just one run in 14 innings in his last two starts. … Giovany Cordero, a 10-year-old boy whose family lives next door to Escobar’s house in Caracas, Venezuela, was taken around the clubhouse by the Angels pitcher. Cordero took pictures with every player after they autographed his baseball. … Palmeiro’s second-inning double edged him past Ty Cobb into ninth place on the career list for extra-base hits and tied former Orioles teammate Eddie Murray for 16th place in doubles. … Orioles OF Luis Matos underwent surgery Wednesday in Baltimore to repair a stress fracture in his right shin.