Angels 10, Orioles 1
Vladimir Guerrero homered twice and drove in five runs, Garret Anderson also connected and the AL West leaders sent the sputtering Orioles to their season-worst seventh straight loss with a 10-1 victory Tuesday night.
“They’re so talented, you don’t want to take them for granted,” Angels second baseman Adam Kennedy said. “They’ve got some pretty good hitters in their lineup and a good bullpen. But we wanted to get back on track, and this game was big.”
The Angels, who came staggering home after a 1-5 trip that reduced their division lead over Oakland from 6 1/2 games to one, maintained that margin behind Guerrero’s 25th career multihomer game and second this season.
“When we got that big lead, all of a sudden people thought it was over and we’d just coast on in,” first baseman Darin Erstad said. “Unfortunately, this game doesn’t work that way, so we welcome the challenge. We said this was going to be a dogfight from Day 1.”
Bartolo Colon (13-6) scattered 10 hits over seven innings, striking out seven and walking none. The right-hander gave up his only run in the fourth on an RBI single by B.J. Surhoff, who started at first base for the third time this season while Rafael Palmeiro served the second game of his 10-day suspension for a positive steroid test.
“Obviously, we’ve got a lot on our table right now,” Baltimore outfielder David Newhan said. “The bottom line is, we’ve got to stick together and figure out a way to start winning some games. We’ve still got a long road ahead of us, but I don’t think we can concede the season yet.”
When Palmeiro returns from his suspension, he will have a lot of support from his teammates.
“Anybody can make a mistake in this game,” shortstop Miguel Tejada said. “He didn’t kill nobody. I feel sad for him and I feel sorry for him. He’s not a bad guy. That’s why I feel sorry for him. When he comes back, he’s going to be the same guy.”
The Orioles, who spent two months atop the AL East standings and were a season-high 14 games over .500 on June 21, are now four games under the break-even mark for the first time following their 13th loss in 14 games. The defeat, coupled with Boston’s victory over Kansas City, put them a season-worst 9 1/2 games off the pace.
“This is a professional team. These guys are a bunch of professionals and they have a job to go out and play baseball, just like you do any other day,” manager Lee Mazzilli said. “The guys on the team have an obligation to the uniform that you wear to go out and play the game. And that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to have to tighten the belt buckle, so to speak, and grind it out.”
Sidney Ponson (7-10) allowed eight runs, 10 hits and three homers in 5 1-3 innings, making him 0-6 with an 8.26 ERA over his last eight starts. In his previous outing last Thursday against Texas, Ponson faced only nine batters and left after Sandy Alomar Jr.’s line drive bruised his right thumb.
Guerrero made it 3-0 in the second, driving a 2-1 pitch over the center-field wall after Erstad doubled with one out. Anderson followed with his 12th homer of the season and his fourth RBI in 20 games.
The Angels increased the margin to 5-1 in the fifth on a leadoff walk to Erstad and Guerrero’s 21st homer.
“Vlad always seems to pick us up when we’re a little down,” Kennedy said. “When he and Garret are both swinging the bats well, it puts a lot of pressure on the other team and gives guys in our lineup a chance to swing the bat with men on base. If Vlad did all year long what he did tonight, his numbers would be off the charts.”
Orioles slugger Sammy Sosa was incensed at umpire Paul Emmel after getting called out on strikes in the sixth and had to be led away by Mazzilli. In the bottom half, Mazzilli and Surhoff argued with first base umpire Tony Randazzo that Figgins’ double down the line should have been called foul.
Orlando Cabrera followed that hit with a two-run double that gave the Angels an 8-1 cushion and chased Ponson. Mazzilli, who had had enough of Guerrero at that point, had Steve Kline intentionally walk him with two outs.
Sosa, who was suspended seven games in 2003 for using a corked bat while playing for the Chicago Cubs, declined comment on Palmeiro’s suspension. … Sosa’s suspension began nine weeks and five days after his 500th home run. Palmeiro’s began two weeks and three days after his 3,000th hit. They both have played for the Rangers, Cubs and Orioles. … Colon is 10-3 with a 3.57 ERA over his last 17 starts. … No Orioles starting pitcher has won since July 15, when RHP Rodrigo Lopez beat Seattle 6-3 and Palmeiro got his 3,000th hit.