Friday, July 3, 2009

Angels 5, Orioles 2

John Lackey looks to be back in top pitching shape.

Lackey pitched eight solid innings and Bobby Abreu provided the offense with two home runs as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 on Thursday night.

The right-hander, who had a loss and a no-decision in his last two starts, got the run support he needed this time from Abreu's 14th career multihomer game and his first as an Angel.

He struck out seven and gave up four hits and a walk against the Orioles, who are in last place in the AL East.

The ace breezed through Baltimore's lineup, except for a jam in the fifth, showing the form when he won 19 games in 2007.

"This is the best stuff we've seen him have in a couple of years. This rivals anything we've seen with John," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

"When his fastball command is there, he can quietly roll through a lineup. ... His arm felt good, his delivery felt good and he was throwing to spots easy with a lot of life on his fastball tonight."

A fastball he utilized early.

"I was able to get through the first inning without throwing anything but a fastball so that kind of establishes that and gets you rolling a little bit," said Lackey, who missed the first six weeks of the season with a right forearm strain.

He gave up one single through the first four innings before getting into trouble in the fifth. Rookie Matt Wieters tied the game at 1 with an RBI single, but Lackey struck out Robert Andino and Brian Roberts with two runners on.

"He was putting it where he wanted it," catcher Mike Napoli said. "To me, it looked like the John of last year when he was going good. He was getting through a lot of innings. It looks like things are coming around now."

Both of Abreu's homers were to right field off starter Jeremy Guthrie, who gave up nine hits in seven innings.

Luke Scott homered in the seventh to bring the Orioles
within three runs, but they dropped to a dismal 11-24 on the road.

"Lackey had a real good slider. It seemed like when he got two strikes, he expanded the strike zone. We just didn't have enough tonight," Orioles manager Dave Tremblay said.

Guthrie made it through three easy innings before giving up the homer to Abreu in the fourth.

Then the Angels broke things open.

Maicer Izturis tripled and Napoli walked to put runners at the corners. Chone Figgins drove them in two batters later to make it 2-1 and Abreu cleared the bases with his sixth homer of the season.

"The bad pitch to Abreu on the first home run was a changeup that I left up. I tried to go in with a fastball the second time and got it in there, but he did a great job on it," Guthrie said. "It really surprised me that he put that much barrel on the ball and was able to hit it out like that. But he always has a good quality at-bat. He's just a great hitter."

The Angels are hoping this game gets Abreu going.

"It's great to see the power start to appear because that's something we obviously talked about in our lineups," Scioscia said. "We need more batter's box offense and slugging percentage and some guys are starting to get into their game and deliver and it's a big night for Bobby tonight. Hopefully he'll start doing it a little more consistently."


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