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Angels give it a lot of power

August 11, 2009|JIM PELTZ

Being shut out on a paltry three singles while its defense crumbled apparently had a way of getting the Angels' attention.

One night after that calamity, the Angels refocused at the expense of the Tampa Bay Rays, played error-free ball and reasserted why they're one of baseball's best hitting teams.

Vladimir Guerrero and Kendry Morales each hit two home runs -- with Guerrero's second the 400th of his career -- Monday night to help the Angels overcome another poor outing by rookie starting pitcher Sean O'Sullivan and defeat the Rays, 8-7, at Angel Stadium.

And perhaps it was just a coincidence, but the Angels -- after suffering dropped balls and other defensive lapses Sunday when they were shut out by the Texas Rangers' Derek Holland -- securely caught most of the fly balls hit to them the old-fashioned way -- with two hands.

An exception: Juan Rivera's catch of Ben Zobrist's fly ball to left field that he snatched for the final out as the ball appeared set to clear the fence and tie the score.

After Guerrero hit his milestone home run into the right-field corner against reliever Russ Springer in the seventh inning to produce the game-winning run, he emerged from the dugout and tipped his cap in front of a roaring 37,388.

"I feel very good, it was not only the fact that it was homer No. 400, but it came when the team really needed it," Guerrero said through an interpreter.

Guerrero said he talked with his family Sunday about reaching the benchmark, "and how close I was and how much I wanted to do it here in front of the fans."

O'Sullivan, making his first start against Tampa Bay, was coming off his first loss, on Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox.

This time he gave up six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, including home runs to Jason Bartlett and Carlos Pena, the latter tying the score, 6-6, in the fifth inning.

"I just felt a little off tonight, I was having trouble getting ahead in the counts," O'Sullivan, 21, said. "With a team like that, you can't fall behind."

The Angels, in turn, scored six runs against starter Matt Garza in only 3 1/3 innings.

The Angels had pulled ahead, 7-6, in the fifth inning when Morales hit his second home run, and 25th of the season, against Lance Cormier.

But then reliever Jason Bulger was tagged for a triple by Bartlett that drove in Gregg Zaun, who had doubled, and tied the score, 7-7.

O'Sullivan dug himself into an early hole by hitting Carl Crawford, the American League's leader in stolen bases, with a pitch in the first inning.

Crawford promptly stole second base, his 53rd steal, and scored on a double by Evan Longoria, the former Long Beach State standout. Zobrist singled to drive home Longoria.

Guerrero answered with his first home run, a solo shot in the second inning. Rivera then got aboard on an error by second baseman Willy Aybar, the older brother of the Angels' Erick Aybar, and Morales singled.

Erick Aybar then made his brother pay for the error with a single that drove in Rivera. And after Aybar eventually reached third base, he scored on Chone Figgins' single to give the Angels a 3-2 lead.

Tampa Bay, which won two of three games when the teams met in Florida in June, promptly tied the score, 3-3, in the third inning when Bartlett slammed a 1-and-2 pitch from O'Sullivan over the left-field wall.

It was the 15th consecutive game in which the Rays had hit at least one home run, a club record.

Morales' first home run was a two-run shot in the third inning against Garza to give the Angels a 5-3 lead.

The Angels added a run in the fourth inning on Maicer Izturis' bases-loaded sacrifice fly.

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james.peltz@latimes.com

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