The Los Angeles Angels have done a wonderful job of turning around a season that just two weeks ago seemed unsalvageable.
Instead of basking in their accomplishment, they’re far more focused on what happens next.
Pinch-hitter Cameron Maybin singled in the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning, Kole Calhoun and Andrelton Simmons homered and Los Angeles beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-4 Sunday.
The Angels have won nine of 11 to gain a tie for the second AL wild card slot and move four games over .500 (64-60) for the first time since April 11.
“We can look back, but it’s not going to serve much of a purpose,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’ve been playing better baseball for the past couple of weeks. We need to keep going.”
The Angels took advantage of nine walks to win the deciding matchup of a three-game series in which they hit 11 home runs.
“We walked, what, nine guys today?” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “That’s like turning the lineup over without earning it. You’re going to have a tough time winning those games, but we had a shot.”
The Orioles still have a shot at the playoffs, too, but they’re going to need an LA-like surge. Baltimore has dropped eight of 12 and hasn’t won two in a row since Aug. 5-7.
With the score 4-all in the eighth, Calhoun and Luis Valbuena drew walks from Brad Brach (3-4). With two outs, Maybin stepped in for Juan Graterol and delivered an opposite-field liner to right off Mychal Givens.
Maybin missed the first two games of the series with a sore knee and was in a 5-for-27 funk since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 7.
“I felt comfortable Cam was going to put the ball in play, and he had a big hit for us,” Scioscia said.
Cam Bedrosian (3-2) worked one hitless inning and Bud Norris got three outs for his 19th save.
Calhoun hit a solo shot in the second inning, walked three times and scored three runs. Simmons’ two-run homer put Los Angeles up 4-1 in the sixth.
“Winning the series, it’s special against a team that’s fighting for the same thing we are,” Simmons said. “Once you are playing that good and you are seeing the light, you want to keep going. You want to keep winning all the game.”
Making his first start since Aug. 3, Baltimore’s Chris Tillman allowed four runs, four hits and a career-high tying six walks in 5 1/3 innings.
“You cut the walks in half that’s a different ball game,” Tillman said. “Other than that, I thought it was OK.”
After going 16-6 last year, Tillman is now 1-7 with a 7.75 ERA. He was sent to the bullpen after a run of 14 straight winless starts.
Facing his former team for the second time in 13 days, Parker Bridwell gave up four runs, two earned, and six hits in five-plus innings. Bridwell was traded to Los Angeles from Baltimore in April for cash and a player to be named.
Bridwell took a three-run lead into the sixth, but a throwing error by second baseman Cliff Pennington led to a two-run single by Jonathan Schoop and an RBI double by Mark Trumbo.
Adam Jones was forced to stop at third on the ground-rule double, and Keynan Middleton struck out Chris Davis to end the inning.
“I think it’s kind of been the story of the whole year for us,” Davis said, lamenting the missed opportunity. “I think what’s going to define us this year is whether or not we can make that push and start winning some of those games.”
Right-hander JC Ramirez was feeling better after leaving Saturday’s game because of a strained forearm. He will see a specialist on Monday and will likely miss his next start. Left-hander Tyler Skaggs (1-3, 3.63 ERA) returns from the bereavement list Monday to help the Angels launch a four-game series against the visiting Texas Rangers.