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Gonzalez delivers solid outing for Orioles

The SportsXchange

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Orioles got clutch hitting, good pitching and strong defense on Tuesday night, a big reason they won their third consecutive game.

Nick Markakis lined a tiebreaking two-run single in the seventh inning and Miguel Gonzalez pitched eight strong innings to give the Baltimore Orioles a 3-2 victory over the Angels at Camden Yards.

The win put the Orioles a season-high nine games above .500 at 37-28. Gonzalez (4-2) matched a career best by going eight innings and his teammates gave him lots of support with some spectacular defense.

But the Markakis hit proved crucial. He came up with the bases loaded in a 1-1 tie in the seventh. Scott Downs had just entered and Markakis lined a 1-0 sinker to center for two runs.

"You want to be in those situations," Markakis said. "I've faced Downs enough to know what he's going to do up there. I was just looking for a ball up in the zone. He left one up over the plate, I put a good swing on it and we scored two runs."

Baltimore hadn't done much against Angels starter Jason Vargas before the two-run seventh. Vargas (5-4) had pitched 14 straight shutout innings against the Orioles this season before Manny Machado's RBI grounder in the sixth tied the score.

In the seventh, the Orioles loaded the bases on three straight two-out infield singles from Danny Valencia, Steve Pearce and Ryan Flaherty. The last, from Flaherty, ended Vargas' night.

The two runs proved enough for Gonzalez. He sent the Angels (27-38) to a fourth straight loss by scattering four hits in eight innings.

Gonzalez struck out five and walked one and rarely got into trouble. Mike Trout's solo homer in the fourth was all Gonzalez allowed.

"I made good pitches when I needed to and we played a good game all around," Gonzalez said. "I just tried to give my team a chance to win a ballgame, and that's what we did."

The Angels went 0-for-1 with runners in scoring position against Gonzalez and left only one runner on base in his eight innings.

The Orioles helped their cause by turning three double plays, a big reason for the Angels never sending more than four batters to the plate in any inning.

Defense also helped Baltimore, which made a number of slick plays to help Gonzalez.

Machado made a diving stop in the first, turned a ball short-hopping him into a 5-4-3 double play in the third and made another smooth play in the ninth.

First baseman Chris Davis grabbed a line drive and turned that into a second-inning double play. Markakis made two tough catches in right, one of which saw him crash into the side wall in foul territory.

Gonzalez also helped his own cause with some good fielding, knocking down one ball and chasing it to throw out a runner in the sixth, and then starting an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play in the seventh.

"That was a baseball game as far as defensive play," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "You want to see defense. It's proud to be part of that and watch those guys play defense."

Jim Johnson worked the ninth for the Orioles to pick up his 23rd save, even though he gave up a two-out RBI single to Albert Pujols.

Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos stopped the Orioles from taking the lead in the first with some good defense of his own.

Machado reached on a one-out single before J.J. Hardy sent a blast to deep center. Bourjos raced back, jumped up and reached over the wall to pull the ball back in a play reminiscent of Trout's great catch here last June 27.

Trout then gave the Angels a 1-0 lead leading off the fourth with a solo homer. That was the left fielder's second home run in two nights after going 71 at-bats without one.

But the Angels couldn't manufacture anything else, wasting a good effort from Vargas and ending his five-game winning streak.

"I really liked the way Jason Vargas pitched tonight," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He pitched a terrific game. A game like that, you want to support him offensively, and we weren't able to do that tonight."

NOTES: Hardy got burned again on his second at-bat. He hit a fly ball near the stands in left field -- in foul territory -- and a fan reached over and blocked Trout from catching it. The umpires ruled Hardy out on fan interference. ... Alexi Casilla's injured finger (right index) is still bothering him, and he was only available to pinch-run. ... The Angels put right-hander Robert Coello on the 15-day disabled list because of inflammation in his right shoulder. They also recalled right-hander Dane De La Rosa from Triple-A Salt Lake. ... The Angels' Howie Kendrick singled in the second inning to end a 0-for-8 skid. He went hitless on Sunday and Monday, the first time he was hitless in consecutive games in the month of June.
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