Angels continue traveling in style

Times Staff Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Say what you want about the benefits of home cooking, but the Angels apparently prefer room service. Because be it ever so humble, there seems to be no place like the road for the team this season.

"Maybe it's because these guys got families. Everybody gets their sleep on the road," said reliever Darren Oliver, searching for an explanation. "Who knows? It works for me."

And for his teammates too, who rode a five-RBI night from Garret Anderson and a gutsy five-out performance from Oliver to a 5-3 win over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday, running the Angels' road record to a baseball-best 12-5 and extending their season-best winning streak to four.

The numbers don't stop there. With five runs and 15 hits -- one shy of their season high -- the Angels raised their batting average to .291 and their scoring average to nearly 5.4 runs a game, both tops in the majors. And with their 22nd win pushing them to a season-best nine games over .500, they remain tied with three other teams for the most victories in baseball.

And the best may be yet to come.

"Our lineup, as it settles in, if we can get some of the guys in the middle swinging to their capabilities, we're going to create a foundation for us to do the things we need to do offensively," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We're not there yet."

Everybody was swinging the bats Tuesday, with Jeff Mathis the only starter without a hit. Six players got multiple hits with the Nos. 2 through 6 spots in the Angels order going 11 for 24.

And it all started with Anderson, who cracked a three-run homer in the fourth inning, then added RBI singles in the fifth and seventh. Combined with his two-run homer in the ninth inning Monday, Anderson has more hits (four) and more RBIs (seven) in his last six at-bats than he had in the previous week combined.

"The win, that's the most important thing," said Anderson, who admitted he had grown frustrated as his average dipped to .218 over the weekend. The resurgence, he said, is the result of "an adjustment" he refused to explain.

Another adjustment Anderson has had to make is accepting his role as a designated hitter. He was the DH just 20 times last year but has already filled that position 14 times this season.

"I stay out on the bench and watch the game," he said. "I just try to get a feel of the game, how it's going, how the pitcher's throwing. And I do that when I'm playing [the outfield] so it's natural for me. The only thing that's changed is I'm not out on the field."

The Royals jumped on rookie Nick Adenhart for three runs in the first three innings, but Anderson got that back with his homer, then put the Angels in front with his fifth-inning single. Kansas City threatened in the bottom of the inning when Adenhart walked two with one out. But Oliver (2-1) came on to strike out the next two hitters on eight pitches, then retired the side in order in the sixth.

"I was just doing what I was supposed to do," said Oliver, who has not given up a run in eight of his last nine appearances. "I knew the situation. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't."

Justin Speier, Scot Shields and Francisco Rodriguez followed, each pitching a scoreless inning, with Rodriguez earning his major league-leading 14th save.

"All aspects of the game we do well," Shields said. "We pitch well, we play defense well and we hit well. We can get you in a few different ways. And tonight was one of those nights where Garret came in with his bat and the bullpen came in and did its job."


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