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Angels down the Mets, 6-1

Offense has 11 hits for second straight night and Lackey strikes out seven in victory.

June 18, 2008|Kevin Baxter | Times Staff Writer

Don't go hoisting any pennants or organizing any parades just yet, but the Angels' six-week-long offensive drought may be nearing an end.

Either that or the New York Mets' pitching is really bad -- which is a distinct possibility since the team fired its manager and pitching coach before Tuesday's game.

But no matter who gets the credit -- or blame -- the fact remains that with Tuesday's 6-1 win over the Mets and Johan Santana, the Angels have suddenly scored at least six runs in consecutive games for the first time since May 1.

Before the Mets came to town, the Angels had scored that many only once in their previous 24 games. So while they may not be the 1927 Yankees just yet, they're getting closer.

"We're moving in the right direction," said Manager Mike Scioscia, whose team got 11 hits for the second consecutive game Tuesday.

"We're getting better. But we're not where we need to be. I don't think you just say 'OK, it's here.' It's a work in progress and we're still searching for some of the things we need."

There are some things they need that they may have found, though. Like some power from Vladimir Guerrero, who went two for four with a double and two runs scored, raising his average for June to .419.

Add in some unexpected production from Maicer Izturis, who in his last 16 games is batting .391, 118 points over his career average, and some consistency from Gary Matthews Jr., who has one fewer hit in June than he had in all of May, and can a few more runs really be that far behind?

"There really isn't a change in my approach," said Matthews, who has had multiple hits in six of his last 12 games.

"I'm just getting some hits to fall. I've just been staying aggressive and sooner or later it's going to come. You say that all the time in this game, but the truth is it really couldn't have gotten much worse."

The Angels' offensive re-awakening came on a night when they really didn't need many runs thanks to another great effort from right-hander John Lackey, who was down 1-0 after three batters, then settled down to give up only three hits over the next six innings.

Lackey (4-1), who matched a season high with seven strikeouts, twice set down eight in a row and allowed a Met into scoring position just twice after the first inning in winning his third consecutive start

"Everything's never working at the same time," said Lackey, who gave up just a run for the fourth time in seven starts.

"You have to find out what's working and ride that. I had a pretty good breaking ball tonight."

He didn't need to be nearly that good given the way the Angels battered Santana, who matched a season high by giving up five runs, including three first-inning scores on a two-run double by Torii Hunter and an error by first baseman Carlos Delgado.

The Angels then padded their lead on Casey Kotchman's RBI single in the third, Jeff Mathis' solo homer in the sixth and an infield single by Matthews in the eighth.

"It should be a big confidence booster for our offense," Lackey said. "You have to give our guys credit. They swung the bats well against a great pitcher."


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