Angels 3, Orioles 2
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—John Lackey has received plenty of run support this season, which helps explain why he leads the major leagues in victories. He’s also winning the low-scoring games.
Lackey became the majors’ first nine-game winner with help from Gary Matthews Jr., whose seventh-inning single drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in the Los Angeles Angels’ 3-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.
“Going first in the rotation, I knew coming into the season that I’m going to have to win some of these kind of close games because you’re going up against good pitchers a lot of the time,” Lackey said. “Luckily I’ve been able to win a few of them so far.
“I’m definitely pitching a little better, but it’s nothing major. I’ve just been able to get deep into games and stay in there long enough for us to get some runs. The guys were putting pressure on them all night and Gary came through with the big hit.”
Lackey (9-3) allowed two runs and five hits in 7 1-3 innings to win his career-best fifth consecutive start. He struck out four in ending Baltimore’s six-game winning streak.
Daniel Cabrera (4-6) pitched in and out of trouble for 6 2-3 innings, allowing three runs, nine hits and four walks while striking out five. He escaped bases-loaded jams in the first and fifth innings, but the third time was the charm for the AL West-leading Angels.
“Dan did spend a lot of pitches getting out of those jams, but the main thing was, he kept getting out of it,” Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. “I don’t think his pitch count was a problem at the end. Dan is a big strong guy. We were kind of thinking about sending him back out there if he got out of that last inning, but you’re not going to keep that club down after so many chances to score runs.”
Shea Hillenbrand and Chone Figgins opened the seventh with singles and advanced on Reggie Willits’ sacrifice bunt. Cabrera intentionally walked Vladimir Guerrero to load the bases, but Matthews lined the next pitch into left field, giving the Angels their first lead of the game.
“If I’m a manager on the other side, I’m not going to let Vladdy beat me,” Matthews said. “Vladdy is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, let’s be honest. Very few guys have put up the numbers he has. So I just take the pride out of it and take the emotions out of it, go up there, try to bear down and put a good swing on it.”
In their previous four games, the Angels allowed a first-inning run and then came back to score their first time up. They came close to doing it again.
Los Angeles loaded the bases with one out in the first, but Casey Kotchman and Howie Kendrick struck out. Cabrera made another key pitch in the second, retiring Willits on an inning-ending double play with runners at the corners.
The Angels, 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position in Thursday’s 6-2 loss to the Orioles, finally broke through in the fifth with Willits’ RBI single. They loaded the bases again on singles by Orlando Cabrera and Guerrero, a broken-bat flare to left field, but Matthews grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Lackey retired 16 of 18 batters after Tejada’s sixth homer.
“We got to him early, but then he just shut us down,” Perlozzo said. “He’s a strike thrower. He doesn’t give much of a chance out there.”
Kendrick struck out his first two times up and grounded out against Cabrera, who gave up a home run and an RBI single to Kendrick the last time they faced each other on Sept. 6, at Anaheim. … LHP Joe Saunders will be recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake to take RHP Bartolo Colon’s scheduled turn in the Angels’ rotation on Saturday. INF Kendry Morales will be optioned to Salt Lake. … Aubrey Huff singled off Lackey’s glove in the sixth inning for his first hit in 20 career at-bats against him. … Figgins was 3-for-3 with a double, making him 6-for-7 after sitting two games.