Guerrero hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off Chris Ray, and the Angels beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 on Sunday after being held to one hit through the first seven innings by Jeremy Guthrie.
“It feels very good, especially knowing what our guys did on the mound, to be able to pick them up,” Guerrero said through a translator. “The hits were hard to come by today. Some solid contact, but their guy also did a good job. Definitely, it’s a huge win for us.”
Chone Figgins greeted Ray (3-4) with a leadoff single in the ninth, and the right-hander went to a 1-1 count on Guerrero before the 2004 AL MVP drove a hanging slider to left-center for his 350th career homer and 12th this season.
“Something in my heart told me that Vladdy was going to hit a homer,” Angels starter Ervin Santana said. “He waited for his pitch and he hit it good.”
The blown save was Ray’s fourth in 16 chances.
“Every loss is tough, especially when you lose in the ninth inning,” Ray said. “I don’t feel good about it. Jeremy pitched a great game and he deserved to win it. It didn’t come out that way, so obviously it’s tough for him to have thrown that great and not get a decision out of it.”
Guthrie allowed two runs—one earned—and three hits over eight innings, struck out four and did not walk a batter in his seventh start of the season. The right-hander, moved into the rotation full-time on May 8 when Jaret Wright went on the disabled list, has a 1.68 ERA in the starting role.
“You work for consistency,” Guthrie said. “It’s always a pleasant surprise anytime you’re pitching at this level to have that kind of consistency, so I’m very grateful. Every time I go out, and almost every inning that I get through, I feel a lot of gratitude because these guys are good hitters and anything can happen on any pitch. So to string together a bunch of good innings like that is humbling.”
Chris Bootcheck (1-0) pitched a perfect ninth for his first major league win.
Jose Molina’s one-out single in the third was the only hit for the AL West-leading Angels until Shea Hillenbrand singled with one out in the eighth and pinch-hitter Casey Kotchman followed with a double. Hillenbrand scored on Howie Kendrick’s groundout, trimming Baltimore’s lead to 3-2.
Santana gave up three runs and seven hits over seven innings, striking out eight and walking one. Left fielder Garret Anderson played his first game since April 27 after missing the previous 34 because of a sore hip flexor on his right side. The Angels were 23-11 in his absence.
Melvin Mora gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead in the fourth, driving a 3-2 pitch to left-center for his seventh homer of the season and the eighth allowed by Santana in five career starts against Baltimore.
“It was a slider and I know I was stupid with that pitch because I knew he was waiting for that and I just threw it anyway,” Santana said. “It was 3-2 and I didn’t want to walk him.”
The Orioles made it 3-1 in the sixth when Miguel Tejada led off with a single, advanced to third on a pair of deep fly balls and scored on Jay Payton’s single. Before that inning, Tejada was 1-for-14 lifetime against Santana, while Payton was 3-for-22.
Brian Roberts singled with two outs in the Orioles’ third and scored on a double by Nick Markakis. The Angels tied it in the bottom half on a grounder to second by Reggie Willits that drove in Molina.
Roberts, whose error allowed Kendrick to reach safely, fielded Willits’ ball about 5 feet from the bag and could have turned an inning-ending double play himself. But he wasted time flipping the ball to Tejada for the force on Kendrick, who upended the shortstop with a hard takeout slide.
This was only the second time this season that the Orioles’ pitching staff, which leads the AL with 232 walks, did not issue one. The other time was May 8, when Guthrie beat Tampa Bay 8-3 at Baltimore. … Mora had no home runs in 39 at-bats against the Angels last season. … Kendrick was 0-for-3 and has only five hits in 40 at-bats since coming off the disabled list May 22. … Molina, who turned 32 on Sunday, started behind the plate for the first time since May 26.