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Hamilton homers twice as Angels dominate Cubs 13-2

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Dale Sveum was asked on Wednesday afternoon whether he felt his Chicago Cubs still had a chance to get back in the race for a playoff spot in the National League.

"It's a huge hole, but the starting pitching always gives you a chance," the manager said, referring to the double-digit difference between his team and one of the NL's two wild-card spots. "Even though we're playing really well, there has to be that streak of wins to climb back into something, especially when you've got three or four teams to climb over."

About three hours later, the Cubs (40-49) didn't play well and their starting pitcher didn't give them a chance in a 13-2 blowout loss at Wrigley Field to the Los Angeles Angels (44-46).

Josh Hamilton hit a pair of home runs and had five RBIs, and four other Angels hit home runs to pace the offense as Los Angeles got a strong pitching performance from starter C.J. Wilson.

"Offense is kind of a streaky thing sometimes," said Wilson, who allowed one run on four hits in seven innings. "We scored 13 runs, which is kind of a fluke no matter how good your offense is, but ... I feel like our offense is capable of scoring, on average, around six runs a night or something like that. I feel like that's a good benchmark because of all the guys we have that have power and we have speed throughout the lineup. We have guys (who) are .300 hitters and we have guys who I think are on their way back to their (normal) level of play."

Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija (5-9) took the loss in his worst outing of the season.

Los Angeles scored five times in the first inning and tacked on four more against Samardzija in the fifth -- including back-to-back home runs by Hamilton and Albert Pujols.

"There's no sugarcoating it," Samardzija said. "They kicked my (butt) tonight, and that's how it goes."

Wilson (9-6) picked up the win and struck out six with no walks.

"Obviously the big cushion helped him, but early on he wasn't as crisp as I think he got as the game went on," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He had a lot of three-ball counts early with the big lead, but he settled in. When he needed it, he was able to get some pitches in good zones and get some strikeouts and (he) got the ground balls when he needed (them). He pitched a good game, no doubt about it."

The Angels got right back to their winning ways on the road after having a seven-game road winning streak snapped Tuesday night. Los Angeles also has won 10 of its last 12 games as the Angels head to Seattle this weekend for a three-game series that will lead into the All-Star break.

Maybe most important for them, the big names in their lineup are starting to produce on a regular basis -- which the Cubs found out firsthand Wednesday.

Hamilton and Pujols, in particular, are starting to perform the way most expected them to when Hamilton signed with the Angels last winter.

"It wasn't just the back-to-back (homers), but Albert had good at-bats all night," Scioscia said. "He took the walks when they were there and we cashed in with guys in scoring position with Josh. With Albert and Josh, obviously those are two guys that are critical to where we want to be. To see those guys have such good nights in the same game, I hope we see more of it."

NOTES: The Cubs reached an agreement with 3B Kris Bryant, their first-round draft pick (No. 2 overall). Bryant, who must pass his physical for the team to make the official announcement, signed for a reported $6.7 million. That's the highest amount to date for a player from this year's draft. ... Cubs RHP Scott Baker, who is coming back from a spring setback after Tommy John surgery, will throw a bullpen session Thursday. Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer told reporters there is a chance Baker will be part of Chicago's rotation next season. ... Angels RHP Jason Vargas was cleared to play catch Tuesday and will begin his throwing progression in his recovery from a blood clot in his left armpit area. ... Angels RHP Tommy Hanson was slated to throw a bullpen session Wednesday. Hanson was placed on the DL June 27 (retroactive to June 21) for a right forearm strain. ... 2B Howie Kendrick didn't start on Wednesday against the Cubs because Scioscia wants to get him some time off heading into the All-Star break.
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