Angels roll out barrels in big win

They opened the roof in Chase Field just before the first pitch Friday night, allowing the warmth of a 98-degree evening to fill the stadium and the Angels to hearken back to March, when they were the scourge of the Valley of the Sun.

Remember the Terrors of Tempe, the offensive juggernaut that rolled through spring training with a major league-best 26-8 record, a .315 batting average, a .390 on-base percentage, and scored an average of 7.4 runs a game?

Maybe it was the hot, dry Arizona air, but the team that blew out the Diamondbacks, 12-3, on Friday night, extending its win streak to three games and improving to a major league-best 13-4 in interleague play, looked a lot like those Cactus League crushers.

The Angels scored eight runs in the second inning, the most they've scored in an inning this season, and their dozen runs were a season high, giving Jered Weaver (six innings, three runs, four hits, five strikeouts) more than enough support to improve to 8-3.

The Angels had 11 hits, including Torii Hunter's two-run home run and Maicer Izturis' two-run triple. They drew six walks and were hit by two pitches, giving them an on-base percentage of .404 for the game. They went eight for 20 with runners in scoring position.

"We did a little bit of everything tonight," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We drove the ball well, we worked counts, we ran the bases well and pressured them. There was one good at-bat after another. That's where we need to be on the offensive side."

Is it any coincidence that the Angels' recent surge -- they've won 10 of their last 13 games and are a half-game out of first place in the American League West -- has come against National League West teams San Diego, San Francisco, Colorado, Arizona and the Dodgers?

"As poorly as we played through some stretches this season, there were some triple-A teams that would have given us a run for our money," Scioscia said.

"But we're playing better baseball now. . . . These leagues, it's not like one is from Venus and one is from Mars. You still have to play good baseball."

Though Friday night's game was one-sided, there was actually a huge momentum swing from the bottom of the first inning to the top of the second, as Weaver pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam by striking out Gerardo Parra and Chris Young to end the first and the Angels erupted in the second.

Juan Rivera started the Angels' rally with a one-out single to center off Arizona starter Billy Buckner. Kendry Morales poked a hit-and-run single through the vacated shortstop hole, and Erick Aybar knocked in a run with an infield single.

Jeff Mathis lined a run-scoring double over Parra's head in left field, and Weaver knocked in a run with a fielder's choice grounder. Chone Figgins walked, Izturis hit a two-run triple to right, and Bobby Abreu added an RBI single.

Hunter then capped the rally with a two-run home run to right field, his 17th of the season, to make it 8-0 and knock out Buckner, one night after the Diamondbacks used nine pitchers in a 9-8, 12-inning loss to Texas.

Weaver gave up a two-run home run to Stephen Drew in the third and a solo shot to Tony Clark in the fourth, but he and relievers Darren Oliver and Jason Bulger blanked the Diamondbacks the rest of the way.

The Angels tacked on three more runs in the eighth inning, which was capped by Morales' two-run double.

"We were a little more patient at the plate tonight, waiting for our pitch," Hunter said. "And we got pitches we can handle."

The Angels seemed relentless at the plate, and there was no better example than in the eighth, when Aybar, in a 12-3 game, extended reliever Juan Gutierrez to 10 pitches in an at-bat that ended in a strikeout. "That was a great at-bat," Scioscia said. "Some of our players, especially the younger guys, have given counts back to pitchers. Tonight, it was great to see everyone maintain their discipline at the plate, but when they got their pitch, they turned it loose."


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