Hunter homers twice, leads Angels over Orioles
BALTIMORE (AP)—One day after his grandmother passed away, Torii Hunter did exactly what she would have wanted him to: revel in the joy of playing baseball.
Edna Cobbs died Friday, soon after Hunter returned from a two-day stay on the bereavement list to be at her side in Pine Bluff, Ark.
“She passed and she’s not worrying about too much pain or struggle right now,” Hunter said. “Whenever I come to the field, you know this is my safe haven. She always used to tell me, ‘Just have fun.’ … You kind of remember that, you go out there, just have fun and play the game.”
Hunter went 3-for-3 with two walks. He hit a two-run single in the first inning, a solo homer in third and a two-run shot in the ninth. It was his third two-homer game of the season and the 11th of his career.
“Torii’s been on an emotional roller coaster and I think it’s a great outlet for him to be able to play baseball,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “It’ll probably be rough for him, too, next week with the services, but he’s focused on playing baseball.”
Los Angeles has won nine of 10, including seven of eight since the All-Star break, and has scored 31 runs in its last three games.
“For a long time, our pitching has been just driving this whole machine,” Scioscia said. “You know, the last couple of games we haven’t been as crisp on the mound, but offensively we picked them up. So that’s a good sign.”
Jon Garland (9-6) allowed five runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings, but he had plenty of support from the suddenly potent Angels batting order.
“It’s nice to see, definitely,” the right-hander said. “I know it’s not going to happen every night, but when you start putting up runs like this, it takes a lot of weight off.”
Radhames Liz (4-3) gave up six runs in 5 2-3 innings, the eighth straight game in which a Baltimore starter has failed to go six innings. Orioles starters have a 10.32 ERA during their five-game skid, which ties a season high.
Liz walked four, and 46 of his 102 pitches were balls.
“I would say his ball-strike ratio was not where it needs to be in order to put himself in a situation where he can pitch in some kind of comfort zone,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. “He was pitching behind a lot. Leadoff walks and two-out walks and those kinds of things have a way of catching up with you in a hurry.”
Los Angeles took the lead for good in the third inning. Chone Figgins hit a leadoff single and Kotchman followed with his 11th homer, tying his career high, before Hunter homered to make it 5-3.
A walk to Hunter and singles by Anderson and Howie Kendrick put the Angels up 6-3 in the sixth.
Scott hit a two-run homer in the bottom half, immediately after an outstanding play by Angels shortstop Maicer Izturis. With a runner on first, Melvin Mora hit a bouncer up the middle that Izturis gloved behind second before sending a backhand flip to Kendrick for a force.
“I thought Izturis made the play of the game, when we were trying to get back in it,” Trembley said.
Los Angeles made it 9-5 in the eighth. Lance Cormier walked Hunter and Anderson before Rivera hit his fifth home run, the second in two games.
Hunter’s 15th homer concluded another offensive outburst by the Angels, whose four homers tied a season high.
“When you’re in a groove, you don’t know what’s going on. You just kind of wait for that pitch,” Hunter said. “You don’t even want to think. It’s just see ball, hit ball. That’s all I’m doing right now. And when you hit it, it’s so sweet.”
Liz retired the first two batters he faced, then issued two walks and a two-run single to Hunter. It was a familiar start for the Orioles, who have yielded first-inning runs 43 times in 113 games.
Huff took over the team RBI lead from Mora, 64-63. … Kotchman has 52 RBIs, one short of Vladimir Guerrero’s team-leading total. … Guerrero went 0-for-3 with a walk, dropping his batting average to .284—41 points below his career mark coming into this season.