Angels 6, Reds 3
CINCINNATI (AP)—Vladimir Guerrero knew the end would come soon.
The star right fielder was relegated to cheering for teammates while the Los Angeles Angels extended their impressive surge the past week, waiting to break out of his deep slump.
The finish came with a flurry on Wednesday night. Guerrero drove in four runs, and John Lackey became the major leagues’ first 10-game winner with a 6-3 victory over the thoroughly impressed Cincinnati Reds.
“You try to throw the ball off the plate, and he still hits it,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said. “We had a good idea of what we wanted to do. You want to throw it where he can’t reach it.”
Sometimes, there’s no such place.
“You can run that story four times a week,” Lackey said. “The guy is unbelievable. He’s one of those guys you’re going to tell your kids you played with.”
The AL West leaders are 24-9 since May 9, the best surge in the majors. They’re 6-2 in interleague play, showing the depth and versatility to win in either league.
They’ve carried on lately without much from Guerrero, who was in an 0-for-14 slump when he got back in the swing against the NL’s worst team. He drove in runs with a grounder and a pair of doubles off Kyle Lohse (3-8), matching his season high with four RBIs.
Asked if the slump had worried him, Guerrero smiled and shrugged his muscular shoulders.
“After so many years, I’ve gone through 0-for-16s, 0-for-20s,” he said through a translator. “I know that if you do what you’re supposed to do, you’re going to get out of it.”
Angels manager Mike Scioscia predicted before the series began that Guerrero would have a breakout game.
“I told you he was going to do it,” Scioscia said. “If we’re worrying about Vlad swinging the bat, I think we’re misplacing our anxiety.”
The one-man run production was comforting for Lackey, who rebounded from his roughest outing of the season. The right-hander gave up four hits and three runs — one earned—in six innings against the same lineup that struck out 16 times a night earlier.
Lackey (10-4) has won six of his past seven starts. The only blemish was his last outing, an 8-5 loss to Minnesota. He gave up a season-high two homers in that game.
Pitching in one of the majors’ most homer-friendly parks, Lackey made only one glaring mistake. Scott Hatteberg hit a solo homer—only his third hit in June—on a full-count pitch that was down the middle.
Being first to reach the 10-win mark didn’t seem to matter.
“Not really,” Lackey said. “It ended a losing streak. That’s the biggest thing.”
The Angels had lost their last two games, which qualifies as a losing streak by their standard. Los Angeles hasn’t lost more than two in a row since May 5-8, largely because its starters have been so good.
“That whole rotation is definitely what we envisioned, and John’s been pacing it, setting the tone,” Scioscia said.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched a perfect ninth for his AL-leading 20th save in 21 chances. Rodriguez has converted 42 of his last 44 opportunities, anchoring a bullpen that is among the AL’s best.
The Angels have won their last 112 games when leading after eight innings, the longest current streak in the majors.
Cincinnati’s Ken Griffey Jr. scored the 1,500th run of his career. Griffey became the 61st player in major league history to reach that level—Barry Bonds and Craig Biggio are the only other active players there.
Chone Figgins had a pair of hits for the Angels, extending his hitting streak to a season-high 12 games. Orlando Cabrera added three singles, and had a sacrifice fly for the Angels’ final run in the ninth. Overall, the Angels’ top three batters combined for eight hits.
“The guys in front did their job, and I didn’t do mine,” Lohse said. “I got ahead of them, but I still couldn’t get them out. Those were backbreakers for me.”
Los Angeles’ Garret Anderson returned to the lineup after missing two games with a stiff leg. He singled home a run. … Lackey lowered his ERA to 2.53. … Angels RHP Bartolo Colon is scheduled to start the final game of the series on Thursday. Colon missed his scheduled start on June 2 because of triceps tendinitis. He is 2-0 in two career starts against the Reds with a 0.69 ERA. … Reds CF Ryan Freel is scheduled for another medical exam Friday. Freel hasn’t played since May 28, when he developed concussion symptoms after running into teammate Norris Hopper while catching a fly ball.