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Angels turn on power against Yankees, 12-6

Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- It’s one thing to beat up on the dregs of the American League, teams like Seattle and Kansas City, but to follow a sweep of the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park with a complete dismantling of the New York Yankees in the Bronx?

These Angels are beginning to look downright scary, their stampede through July concluding with Thursday night’s 12-6 victory in Yankee Stadium in which the Angels crushed three three-run home runs in a game for the first time in 30 years.

Remember that lineup that was supposedly one big bat short of championship-caliber? Torii Hunter, Juan Rivera and Vladimir Guerrero each hit three-run homers Thursday, all with two outs, giving the Angels 36 homers in 25 games in July.

The last Angels trio to accomplish the feat was Brian Downing, Reggie Jackson and Don Baylor in a 10-7 win at Oakland on June 8, 1978.

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Remember that feeble offense that averaged 3.7 runs a game and hit .242 in May and June? The Angels averaged 6.4 runs in July, the second-highest mark for any month in club history, behind a 7.4 average in July of 1995. They banged out 18 hits Thursday to finish July with a .296 average.

“Nobody gave up, everyone stayed positive amid everything that was being said and written about us,” said Garret Anderson, who had his second straight four-hit night and batted .384 (33 for 86) with five homers and 22 runs batted in in July.

“Everybody just kept working hard. We knew it had to turn, and if it didn’t, we were going to die trying. We never gave up.”

One night after pummeling Red Sox ace Josh Beckett for eight runs and 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings, the Angels shredded Yankees starter Andy Pettitte, one of the best left-handers in the game, for nine runs and 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings.

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“This is definitely the best we’ve played all season,” said Hunter, who had nine homers and 21 RBIs in July. “Guys are swinging the bats well . . . man, this is what I expected, why I came here, looking at Vladdy and Garret hitting, [Chone Figgins] getting on base, running, putting the panic on pitchers. I love it.”

The Angels have won 13 of 15 games and have the major league’s best overall (68-40) and road (37-19) records. They went 19-6 in July, their second-best record for that month behind a 22-6 mark in 1998. They have a 12 1/2 -game lead in the American League West, the largest in franchise history.

The Angels are 6-1 on their 10-game trip through Baltimore, Boston and New York, assuring them of a winning record on a trip to these three cities for only the fourth time in 26 such trips.

“You look at the lineup, and it’s equipped with a lot of different things,” Hunter said. “Guys can run, bunt, hit for power. I like that. We have a lot of tools.”

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They dropped the hammer on the Yankees Thursday. Figgins also had four hits and scored three runs, and Howie Kendrick had three hits to improve his career average against the Yankees to .527 (29 for 55).

Newly acquired slugger Mark Teixeira had two hits and an RBI, the Angels stole three bases and went seven for 15 with runners in scoring position. They hit .317 (70 for 221) with runners in scoring position in July.

Hunter lined his three-run shot to right-center, and Rivera drove his to deep-left center in a six-run third inning off Pettitte. Guerrero hit his to left field off reliever Chris Britton in the sixth.

“We’re not going to give them back, they’re a big part of the game,” Manager Mike Scioscia said of the Angels’ new homer-happy attack. “But we also did some things on the bases that were good.”

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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