Angels 6, Orioles 3

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 1/2 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

1/2 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.