Baseball / Sports

For Angels, there's no keeping up with Jones

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones wasn't worried at all that participating in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby would mess with his swing in the second half of the season.

Jones said it himself: He seldom deviates from his swing-from-the-heels power stroke. And while he didn't win the derby, he has put on quite a power display for the Orioles since returning from Minneapolis.

In Monday night's series opener in Anaheim, Jones hit a pair of two-run homers for his fifth career multi-homer game, providing the Orioles with all the offense they needed in a 4-2 victory over a surging Angels team at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

In four games since the break, Jones has three homers and nine RBIs. He also homered and drove in five runs, tying a career high, in Saturday's win against the Oakland Athletics.

With the win, the Orioles (54-44) extended their American League East lead over the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees to four games. The Orioles are 13-8 against the AL West this season and have won 13 of their past 19 road games.

And with Jones' two blasts, the Orioles' 121 homers lead the majors.

Orioles right-hander Bud Norris navigated a dangerous Angels lineup tactfully, limiting Los Angeles to two runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings while stranding seven base runners.

Norris, who was optioned to Double-A Bowie to get work over the break after having making one start since he came off the disabled list, has allowed two or fewer runs in four of his past five starts. Norris walked five on a scalding day in Bowie a week ago, but came away Monday with a strong outing against one of the best lineups in baseball.

In five career starts against the Angels, Norris (8-6) is 4-0 with a 0.78 ERA.

After dropping two of three in Oakland, the Orioles' 10-game West Coast road trip didn't get any easier Monday. They opened their three-game series against an Angels team that entered the night having won 14 of 17 games in July.

And when the Orioles took an early lead Monday night, it seemed to play right into the hands of an Angels team that has a major-league-leading 30 comeback victories.

After Jones' two-run homer three batters into the game, Angels rookie right-hander Matt Shoemaker retired the next 15 hitters.

Nick Markakis' one-out double into the right-center field gap in the sixth ended Shoemaker's run of dominance.

Two batters later, the dull sound of Jones' sending an 82-mph hanging slider well over the left-center-field fence for his 19th homer of the season silenced the home crowd.

Jones' homer, which landed to the left of the rock fixture in left-center field, was measured at 443 feet by ESPN Stats and Info, the longest by an Orioles player this season.

After Markakis opened the game with a single, Jones took a 2-0 fastball up in the zone and sent it over the left-field fence and into the Angels bullpen to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead.

The Angels (59-39) answered in the bottom half of the inning. After leadoff hitter Kole Calhoun singled, Mike Trout hit a grounder to shortstop that J.J. Hardy threw past second baseman Jonathan Schoop for an error.

Despite facing two on with no outs in the first, Norris held the Angels to just one run that inning. Following Josh Hamilton's one-out RBI single, he induced an inning-ending double-play ball.

Norris' best work of the night might have been escaping the fifth allowing just one run. Howie Kendrick opened the inning with a ground-rule double to right, followed by a walk to David Freese. Two batters later Hank Conger's single to right scored Kendrick to tie the game.

Norris struck out No. 9 hitter John McDonald, but an infield single by Calhoun loaded the bases for Mike Trout, who entered the night hitting .342 with runners in scoring position and was 4-for-6 with the bases loaded.

But Norris struck out Trout looking with a 2-2 fastball down in the zone clocked at 95 mph on the stadium radar gun.

Norris struck out Trout again in the seventh inning on another called third strike low in the zone, but left the game after allowing a two-out walk to Albert Pujols.

He then watched as left-hander Brian Matusz made quick work of Hamilton, striking him out on three pitches to end the inning. Hamilton is 0-for-12 with eight strikeouts against Matusz in his career.

After Darren O'Day tossed a scoreless eighth, closer Zach Britton converted his 17th save in 20 opportunities with a scoreless ninth.

(c)2014 The Baltimore Sun

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