The Angels got a pair of third-inning solo home runs from unexpected sources — light-hitting utility infielder Taylor Featherston and second baseman Johnny Giavotella — and broke the game open with a five-run sixth en route to a 7-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Chase Field on Thursday.
The seldom-used Featherston, a Rule 5 pick who entered with three hits in 36 at-bats on the season for an .083 average, lined the first homer of his career into the left-field seats.
Featherston, filling in for slumping shortstop Erick Aybar, got the silent treatment upon returning to the dugout — it’s become tradition for players hitting their first career homers — but was eventually mobbed by teammates on the bench.
Giavotella hit his third homer of the season, also into the left-field seats, and Mike Trout (RBI triple), Efren Navarro (two-run single) and Carlos Perez (two-run double) keyed the sixth-inning rally.
The outburst for a team that scored all of 11 runs in the previous five games was more than enough support for left-hander C.J. Wilson, who allowed one run and eight hits in eight innings, struck out nine and walked none and somehow avoided injury on an ill-advised attempt to stretch a single into a double in the fifth.
Wilson lined his second hit of the season — he now has half as many hits as Featherston — to right-center field with two outs in the fifth and did not even slow as he rounded first.
Right fielder Yasmany Tomas’ throw beat Wilson to second by several feet but was slightly wide of the bag. That prompted Wilson to launch his body into a wild, twisting, headfirst slide to the inside of the bag, a play few pitchers, especially those in the American League, who rarely bat or run the bases, would attempt.
Wilson was tagged out by shortstop Nick Ahmed to end the inning. Even if Wilson had beaten the throw, he would have been tagged out because his slide took him about four feet past the bag.
The Angels were just glad Wilson, who has been one of their most reliable starting pitchers, with a 5-5 record and 3.39 earned-run average, wasn’t hurt.
Wilson returned to the mound in the bottom of the fifth and got two quick outs before David Peralta and Ahmed hit back-to-back doubles to pull the Diamondbacks to within 2-1.
But the Angels broke the game open in the sixth with a five-run, four-hit rally that Giavotella sparked with a leadoff single to left. Kole Calhoun struck out, but Trout hit a run-scoring triple to right-center, his first triple since last Sept. 20, a span of 74 games.
Albert Pujols was intentionally walked, and David Freese walked to load the bases. Arizona Manager Chip Hale pulled starter Allen Webster in favor of Josh Collmenter, but Navarro hit a two-run single to right, and Perez followed with a two-run single to left for a 7-1 lead.