Major League Baseball: Homers by Hardy, Machado help O's beat Angels 8-4
Mark J. Terrill, AP
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Baltimore's long trip to the West Coast ended the way it began — with back-to-back wins.
J.J. Hardy and Manny Machado each hit a two-run homer off Jerome Williams in his first start of the year, leading the Orioles to an 8-4 victory over the reeling Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
Baltimore went 7-4 on its longest road swing of the season and has won five of its last six series.
"Anytime you go to the West Coast for 12 days and you can walk out of there with even a .500 mark, you're feeling pretty good about yourself. But to come away with seven wins out of 11, that's pretty impressive," winning pitcher Jason Hammel said.
Hammel (4-1) allowed four runs and nine hits through six innings, helping the Orioles tie the New York Yankees for second place in the AL East. The right-hander came in 0-3 with a 7.31 ERA in three previous starts against the Angels.
Mike Trout homered for the Angels, whose 11-20 start has matched the worst in franchise history. They have lost seven of nine and are a season-worst nine games behind first-place Texas in the AL West despite a payroll that swelled to $142 million after the offseason addition of 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton. Their only victory in this four-game series came Friday night, when Jason Vargas won 4-0 with a three-hitter.
"We have to do a much better job making pitches, getting hitters out and controlling the defensive side of this game," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We've been terrible at that."
Hammel's biggest pitch of the game was his 107th and final one, when he slipped a called third strike past Trout to strand Erick Aybar at second base and preserve a 5-4 lead. Hammel, who struck out five, is 5-0 with a 3.41 ERA in five road starts.
"I still haven't really gotten it going, and I haven't been as good as labeled, I guess. So I still have some work to do," he said. "I'm a (beneficiary) of a lot of run support right now, and the bullpen's been awesome. It's that simple."
Darren O'Day retired all four batters he faced, retiring Trout on a grounder with two runners in scoring position on a slider away in the eighth and finishing up for his first save since Sept. 8, 2009, with Texas. Orioles closer Jim Johnson, who has converted a career-best 32 consecutive save opportunities, was up and ready just in case.
"Jim better watch out. I'm coming for his job," joked O'Day, who has three saves in the big leagues. "That team over there is very talented. So for us to take three of four here is huge. We've been consistent. We might not blow your doors off, but we're going to play baseball. And we probably haven't played our best baseball yet."
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis returned to the lineup after missing Saturday's game with a knee problem. He was 1 for 4 with an RBI single in Baltimore's three-run eighth. Ryan Flaherty drove in the final two runs with a bases-loaded single against Garrett Richards.
Williams (1-1) threw 93 pitches in 4 1-3 innings, giving up five runs and four hits while striking out six and walking three.
The right-hander, who made eight appearances out of the bullpen with a 1.69 ERA, was coming off a six-inning stint last Monday at Oakland in which he allowed an unearned run from the 10th through the 15th before the Angels lost 10-8 in 19 innings. Richards was bumped from the rotation after going 1-2 with a 5.54 ERA in four starts for injured Jered Weaver.
"Two homers and three walks, that's basically it," Williams said. "Those three walks, I was around the zone. It wasn't an issue about command, it was about executing pitches."
Williams gave up an RBI double with two outs in the first by Adam Jones after a leadoff double by Nate McLouth.
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