Lackey Wins His 11th As Angels Top Birds

Sunday, July 1st 2007, 3:38 pm
By: News On 6

BALTIMORE (AP) _ John Lackey outpitched rookie Jeremy Guthrie to earn his 11th win, and Casey Kotchman and Mike Napoli hit slump-breaking home runs to help the Los Angeles Angels defeat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 on Sunday.

The Angels took two of three from Baltimore to improve to 51-31, the best record in franchise history after 82 games.

Lackey (11-5) allowed two runs and four hits in 7 1-3 innings, striking out five and walking three. His 11 wins is tied for second in the AL behind C.C. Sabathia (12).

The most glaring flaw in Lackey's performance was the second inning, when he gave up a double to Kevin Millar and a home run to Jay Payton. Lackey didn't give up another hit until the eighth, when Brian Roberts led off with a pinch-hit double.

Chris Gomez followed with a single, moving Roberts to third, and Lackey struck out Corey Patterson before being replaced by Scot Shields.

With pinch-hitter Ramon Hernandez at the plate, pinch-runner Freddie Bynum broke for second, and Hernandez grounded a single into the spot vacated when shortstop Orlando Cabrera moved to his left to cover second base. Roberts scored, and Hernandez moved to second on a throwing error by left fielder Nick Gorneault.

With the Angels infield drawn in, Shields retired Nick Markakis on a grounder to second for the second out. Francisco Rodriguez then got Millar to hit a pop up.

Baltimore had runners on first and third with one out in the ninth, but Rodriguez got Roberts to fly out to Vladimir Guerrero, and Melvin Mora was thrown out trying to score from third. It was Rodriguez's 24th save in 26 chances.

Guthrie (4-2) surrendered four runs and four hits in eight innings, striking out seven and walking none, but lost for the first time in 11 starts.

Guthrie was perfect through three innings, then came unglued in the fourth. Chone Figgins hit a leadoff single and scored on a one-out double by Guerrero before Kotchman ended an 0-for-19 drought with a drive off the top of the 25-foot scoreboard in right field.

It was the first time in 12 starts this season that Guthrie gave up as many as three runs in an inning. He had not allowed more than three runs in any start this year before Sunday.

Guthrie came in ranked second in the AL with a 2.45 ERA. It rose to 2.62.

After allowing the home run to Kotchman, Guthrie retired the next 11 batters until Napoli snapped an 0-for-13 skid with his eighth home run of the season.

That was enough backing for Lackey, who's 6-2 with 3.41 ERA lifetime against Baltimore.

Notes: Angels LF Erick Aybar left the game in the third inning with a bruised right hand. X-rays were inconclusive; he will be re-examined Monday in Texas. ... Payton's home run was his second of the year; the other came on May 4. He was 2-for-12 during the six-game homestand before connecting. ... Figgins has a 13-game hitting streak and has hit safely in 26 of his last 27 games. ... Roberts extended his hitting streak to 12 games.