ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels are hoping they’ll look at their horrible start as nothing but a bad memory by the time the season ends.
Their play Friday night suggests better times ahead.
Howie Kendrick had three hits and three RBIs, and the Angels beat Baltimore 6-3 Friday night to end a three-game losing skid and hand Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz his 12th straight loss.
“That’s big for our team. That’s the only way you’re going to win ballgames — by driving in runs,” said Kendrick, one of seven batters in the starting lineup who came in with fewer than five RBIs.
“A lot of guys swung the bats well for us tonight, and that’s what we have to do all year long,” Kendrick added. “We have to be consistent and put together a lot of good at-bats, like we did tonight.”
Jerome Williams (1-1) allowed three runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings, striking out six and walking one. Jordan Walden converted the first ninth-inning save situation by the Angels this season, walking one of his four batters.
The victory pulled the Angels (5-9) within 6 games of the AL West-leading Texas Rangers, who were rained out in Detroit. The largest deficit the Angels have overcome to win any of their eight division titles was in 2004, when they were six games off the pace on July 21. When they won the World Series in 2002, they were 10 games out after 20 games (6-14), but were able to capture the wild-card berth.
“It ain’t how you start, it’s how you finish. That’s how you’ve got to look at it,” right fielder Torii Hunter said. “For the guys in here who have been around, there’s no panic right now. Trust me. We know there’s time. I mean, if you got to 50 or 60 games and you’re 10 games out, that would bother me.”
Matusz (0-3) was charged with six runs — four earned — and eight hits in five-plus innings with three walks and six strikeouts. His streak is the longest by any active major leaguer, and one shy of the Orioles record set by Mike Boddicker between August 1987 and May 1988. Matusz, the fourth overall pick in the 2008 draft, has an 11.64 ERA in 13 starts since his last victory on June 6, 2011, against Oakland.
“I made some good pitches tonight, but I also didn’t make some pitches when I needed to,” Matusz said. “I tried to come inside with the fastball a couple of times, but left it over the middle of the plate and got hurt.”
Orioles leadoff batter Nolan Reimold, who sat out Thursday’s game because of a stiff neck, extended his hitting streak to 10 games. He was 3 for 5 with a two-run homer in the seventh that chased Williams and sliced the Angels’ lead to 6-3.
Albert Pujols, mired in the longest season-opening home run drought of his career, was 0 for 4 — including a towering drive to left field that Reimold caught with his back against the fence to end the second inning.
Pujols, a three-time NL MVP who left the World Series champion Cardinals to sign a $240 million contract with the Angels, is batting .276 with four RBIs in 14 games and 58 at-bats after averaging 40.5 homers and 120.8 RBIs over his 11 previous big league seasons with St. Louis.
Hunter also is having difficulty clearing the fences. This is the longest he’s gone into a season without a home run since 2000 with Minnesota, when he finally broke through in his 60th game — he became a regular for the first time the following year.
“Don’t put `pressing’ in there, because I’m not even trying to hit home runs, first of all. I’m just trying to hit the ball up the middle and get my doubles,” Hunter said. “I’ve tried to change my game a little bit — not swing so hard and try to have better at-bats.
“One thing about hitting behind a guy like Albert, you know they’re going to walk him a lot and he’s going to get on base. So you don’t want to get up there and try to hit home runs and try to be Albert Pujols. I’m not him. You can’t put all that on your shoulders. Just go out there and do what you do.”
Baltimore second baseman Robert Andino made two throwing errors and center fielder Adam Jones committed another on an errant relay throw that allowed Erick Aybar to score behind Chris Iannetta and Alberto Callaspo on Kendrick’s two-run double in the sixth. The Orioles have made at least one error in 10 of their last 11 games.
NOTES: The Angels selected Matusz in the fourth round of the 2005 draft, but he elected to attend the University of San Diego instead. … The major league record for consecutive losses is 27, by Anthony Young of the New York Mets from 1992-93.