ARLINGTON, Texas -- The gloves came off — literally — for Kendrys Morales on a steamy 102-degree evening, and the fight soon returned to the Angels designated hitter, who had not put up much resistance in the batter's box this month.
Mired in a slump in which he had one extra-base hit in 67 plate appearances and was beginning to fray emotionally, the Cuban switch-hitter unleashed his fury and frustration on the Texas Rangers with an outburst that sent Angels media relations officials scurrying for the record books Monday night.
Morales hit a two-run home run from the left side of the plate and a grand slam from the right side, all during a nine-run sixth inning that led the Angels to a 15-8 victory in the opener of a four-game series against their American League West rivals at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Morales became the third player in major league history to homer from both sides of the plate in one inning, joining the Chicago Cubs' Mark Bellhorn, who accomplished the feat on Aug. 29, 2002, against Milwaukee, and Cleveland's Carlos Baerga, who did it on April 8, 1993, against the Yankees.
Morales, who was in a one-for-17 skid going into the sixth, became the second player in Angels history to hit two homers in one inning, joining Rick Reichardt, who did it on April 30, 1966, at Boston. Morales' six runs batted in were a club record for RBIs in an inning.
"Kendrys has started to show some frustration — you can see him shaking his head at the plate and going to the cage between at-bats, signs he's searching for some things," Manager Mike Scioscia said of Morales, who is hitting .271 with 11 homers and 45 RBIs.
"Sometimes it just takes one swing, and hopefully it's going to start something good. He's too good a hitter to be down so long."
Mike Trout had a big night, with a two-run homer and a two-run single. Maicer Izturis had three hits, including a solo homer, and three runs. And Albert Pujols had three hits, two RBIs and two runs as the Angels, who were coming off two shutout losses to Tampa Bay, moved to within four games of the Rangers.
Their 15 runs were a season high, they had 16 hits, and their nine-run sixth, which included consecutive singles by Howie Kendrick, Izturis, Peter Bourjos, Bobby Wilson (RBI) and Trout (two-run), was a season high for runs in an inning.
With the score tied, 3-3, Morales followed Pujols' leadoff double in the sixth with a homer to right against Texas right-hander Roy Oswalt. Later in the inning, with the bases loaded, Morales drove a full-count pitch from left-hander Robbie Ross over the wall in right-center for a grand slam and a 12-3 lead.
After striking out in the first, Morales, who returned this season after missing 11/2 years because of a broken left ankle, did something he tried in 2009, when he hit .306 with 34 homers and 108 RBIs: he removed both batting gloves. Though he struck out in the third, Morales turned his night around in the sixth.
"I've done it in the past, and it worked," Morales said through an interpreter. "I get a better feeling of tightening my hands. I get a better grip on the bat. Sometimes when I wear gloves, I'm too slow to react."
The sixth-inning outburst made a winner of struggling right-hander Ervin Santana, who gave up three runs and four hits in five innings for his first win since June 16. Scioscia said the outing "was not as crisp as we hoped for" but was "ultimately a step forward" and good enough to keep Santana in the rotation for another start.