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Angels 5, Baltimore 2

Bobby Abreu homers twice in Angels' victory

John Lackey gives up two hits and strikes out seven over eight innings in 5-2 win.

July 03, 2009|Kevin Baxter

Bobby Abreu is not a home run hitter and John Lackey is not an overpowering pitcher.

That's the Angels' story and they're sticking to it.

But just try convincing the Baltimore Orioles, who watched Abreu drive in four runs with a pair of homers and saw Lackey scatter four hits over eight innings to lift the Angels to a 5-2 victory Thursday at Angel Stadium.

"You know what kind of player you are," Abreu said. "My game is a line-drive hitter. I don't really try to hit homers. But whenever they come, very well."

They came in consecutive at-bats Thursday, giving Abreu 31 RBIs in his last 30 games. And that proved to be more than enough support for Lackey, who relied heavily on his fastball to set the Orioles down in order five times in eight innings.

Not that his fastball was that fast.

"People look at velocity. I never really had much of it, honestly," said Lackey, who was consistent in the lows 90s all night. "That wasn't ever part of the deal."

Mixing your pitches and locating them is, however, and Lackey did both, throwing 73 of his 114 pitches for strikes.

"It's not a matter of overpowering guys," he said. "It's having guys in between. I have to throw just hard enough for them to chase my breaking stuff. And when they look for my breaking stuff, just hard enough to get it by them."

The Angels opened the scoring in the fourth when Abreu pulled a letter-high pitch over the wall in right-center.

Baltimore got that run right back in the fifth, though, when Lackey, who had retired 12 of the first 13 Orioles he faced, gave up two singles, a walk and a stolen base in the span of four batters.

That brought Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher to the mound. And whatever he told Lackey seemed to work, with the right-hander striking out the next four batters.

"John seems at times like he's doing it quietly," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "When he's at his best, he pitches the way he did tonight. When his fastball command is there, he quietly can roll through a lineup."

The tie didn't last long, as Abreu's three-run homer, his sixth of the season, on an 0-and-2 pitch punctuated a four-run Angels rally in the bottom of the inning.

Maicer Izturis led off with a triple and after an out and a walk, he came home on Chone Figgins' bloop single, one of Figgins' three hits on the night.

That brought Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz to the mound. And whatever he told Jeremy Guthrie didn't work so well, with the right-hander leaving a pitch to Abreu up in almost the same spot where he had left one an inning earlier.

And Abreu hit it to almost the same spot to give the Angels a 5-1 lead.

Lackey took it from there, making just one mistake over the final three innings when Luke Scott homered with one out in the seventh. Other than that he was perfect, capping his second consecutive dominant outing by retiring 11 of the final 12 men he faced to even his season record at 3-3.

"John knows what to do when he gets the lead," Scioscia said. "He got in the zone and made them swing the bats."

And Lackey may just be getting started. Last year he won five straight starts in June and, after a loss, won three in a row in July. Could he be building for a repeat?

"I'm not getting too far ahead of myself," Lackey said with a smile. "I feel really good though. I feel like I'm getting stronger every time I go out.

"And hopefully we can keep it rolling."

Times staff writer Bill Brink contributed to this report.

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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