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ANGELS 10, TAMPA BAY 5

Angels win in Trevor Bell's debut

Young right-hander doesn't get the decision but he lasts 5 1/3 innings. Gary Matthews Jr. and Howie Kendrick hit three-run homers in series-sweeping victory.

August 13, 2009|KEVIN BAXTER

Chone Figgins sat in front of his locker in the Angels' clubhouse Wednesday afternoon, packing for today's flight to Baltimore and the start of the team's longest trip of the season.

In a dark blue duffel bag he carefully arranged his cleats, a glove, a couple of T-shirts. But what about the most important thing the Angels have going for them now, their momentum? Can they just pack that up and fly it cross-country too?

"We can try," Figgins said with a smile after a 10-5 win over the defending American League champion Tampa Bay Rays.

In that case they're going to need a bigger suitcase because the Angels are taking an awful lot of momentum with them.

Wednesday's victory not only gave them a sweep of the three-game series, but it left the Angels a season-high 24 games over .500.

They've won 18 of their last 24 games, are 19-7 since the All-Star break and have the second-best record in the major leagues.

And 12 of the last 14 victories at home, including Wednesday's, have been comeback wins. All of which means, well, not much, says Manager Mike Scioscia.

"We have to carry it in every night to any ballpark we're playing in," he said. "Any time you take that field, you're going to face a tough team. And there's going to be a pitcher out there that can shut you down and a lineup that can score runs. So you can't get mesmerized by the record of a team. You have to go out and play your game."

The Angels did just that Wednesday, watching the Rays run out to a 4-2 lead on a pair of Carlos Pena home runs off rookie starter Trevor Bell before coming back on three-run homers from Gary Matthews Jr. and Howie Kendrick.

For Kendrick, who also had a single, a walk and scored twice, revenge may have been a motive.

The last time the Angels saw the Rays, in June in Tampa, Kendrick was hitting .231.

The Rays took two out of three games in that series, dropping the Angels to .500, and Kendrick was demoted to the minors.

Since then the Angels have gone a baseball-best 39-15 while Kendrick has hit .365 since being recalled last month.

But, like his manager, he said that won't mean anything Friday in Baltimore.

"Regardless of what happened this series, we've got to put it behind us and look at what's ahead of us," he said.

"It's good to be winning. Everything's clicking right now. We want to win the games now.

"But we definitely want to win the games coming too."

Matthews' home run, his first in nearly two months, was the big blow Wednesday, coming with two out in the sixth and erasing a two-run deficit. But the Angels' most impressive rally of the day came an inning later, after two ground-ball singles and an intentional walk loaded the bases with one.

That brought up Kendry Morales, who fouled off nine pitches -- including seven consecutive two-strike pitches -- before grounding an infield single into the hole at short. Another run scored on Jason Bartlett's throwing error to give the Angels a 7-4 lead and two batters later Kendrick closed the door for good, belting a 1-and-1 breaking pitch deep into the left-field bleachers.

Figgins finished with three hits, and the fifth through eighth spots in the lineup went six for 13, scoring eight runs and driving in another eight.

"We're getting contributions from a lot of different guys," Scioscia said. "It's something that has to continue for us."

And if it does, so will the momentum.

--

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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