ANAHEIM, Calif. – Torii Hunter would gladly trade his 17-game hitting streak for a long winning streak, something the Los Angeles Angels will need to catch the first-place Texas Rangers in the AL West.
Hunter drove in five runs with two homers, Peter Bourjos and rookie Mike Trout also went deep, and the Angels beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-3 on Friday night.
"I'm trying to have playoff at-bats. That's the only way I know how to play," Hunter said. "This is a push. In the last two months, I'm trying to push and get to the playoffs. Hopefully, the guys are trying to follow my lead, but I'm not trying to be a leader. I'm just trying to lead by example and play hard. My body's feeling good and my legs are feeling good."
Dan Haren (13-6) earned his seventh victory in his last eight decisions for the Angels, who beat Texas 2-1 on Thursday night to prevent a four-game sweep by the AL West-leading Rangers. Los Angeles remained six games out of first place.
"We battled them, but those guys are smoking hot," Hunter said. "They may be the best team in baseball for the last two months, and we caught them at the wrong time."
Haren surpassed his combined victory total of last year with the Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks. The three-time All-Star allowed three runs and nine hits over seven innings, struck out eight and walked none after getting staked to an early 5-0 lead.
"I actually had good stuff, but I just fell behind in the count a few too many times," Haren said. "I gave up a few hits, but the most part, I pitched out of major damage. I attacked the strike zone and didn't walk anybody, so that's the big thing. Big rallies get started a lot of times with walks, so I've been able to minimize that this year."
The Orioles started chipping away in the third with a two-out RBI single by Matt Wieters that Trout trapped on a diving attempt in short right field. Adam Jones narrowed the gap to 5-3 with sacrifice flies in the fifth and seventh innings.
But Hunter responded in the bottom of the seventh with a two-run homer off reliever Willie Eyre, giving him 17 for the season and capping his 16th career multihomer game.
"I just closed my eyes and swung, man. I was lucky. If I went to the casino now, I'd win," Hunter said.
Scott Downs, who hasn't given up an earned run at Angel Stadium all season, escaped his own bases-loaded jam in the eighth by striking out Josh Bell and retiring J.J. Hardy on a flyball. Hardy has gone six games and 28 at-bats without driving in a run — after an eight-game RBI streak in which he had 13 and homered five times.
"J.J. will be the first to tell you he's struggling a little bit, but he's the kind of guy who gets right back on the bike," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I think he needed a day off yesterday, but he came back out today and had some good at-bats for us."
Trout, who was recalled from Double-A Arkansas on Friday, ended the scoring with a solo homer in the eighth off former Angels reliever Kevin Gregg. The right-hander is with his fourth team in five seasons since the Angels traded him to the Florida Marlins in December 2006.
Jo-Jo Reyes (1-2) gave up five runs, eight hits and three walks over five innings and struck out six in his third start for Baltimore. The left-hander is 6-6 with a 6.01 ERA in 13 starts after ending his major league record-tying winless streak of 28 starts on May 30 with Toronto. In his other outing against the Angels this season, Reyes lost a 3-1 decision to Jered Weaver on April 10 at the Big A.
Reyes, who has a 6.60 ERA over his last three outings, found himself behind 4-0 after just 12 pitches and four batters. Howie Kendrick's single drove in Bourjos, who led off with a double, and Hunter sent the next pitch into the lower seats in the left field corner. By the time the inning ended, Reyes had thrown 34 of his 97 pitches.
"We just wanted to make Reyes work," Hunter said. "We saw his last start on video, and he was erratic in the strike zone. So we just tried to get him behind in the count. We had him 1-0 and 2-0, and we were able to capitalize on it."
Bourjos made it 5-0 in the second with his sixth home run, the 18th Reyes has allowed this season.
"He's obviously got to be better than that early on. He left stuff out over the plate and paid the price," Showalter said. "Our guys were on the field a long time in the first inning, right out of the chute, and it just weighs on you mentally."
Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis threw out Hunter in the fifth when he tried to score from second on a two-out single by Erick Aybar. The Orioles have 28 outfield assists, second in the AL to Kansas City's 43.
Haren escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second by striking out Nolan Reimold and retiring Bell on a grounder to first base. Reimold has no RBIs in 38 career at-bats against the Angels — the only AL club he has not driven in a run against.
Notes: It was the first time this season the Angels scored more than three first-inning runs at home. The Orioles have been outscored 94-42 in the first. ... Hunter has 275 career homers, eight in his 215 career at-bats as a designated hitter. ... Haren fanned Markakis in the first for his 1,400th career strikeout. ... The Angels ended a streak of 12 consecutive games in which their pitchers had given up at least one home run — their longest such streak since a 13-game stretch May 27-June 10, 2008. The franchise record is 17 straight (July 5-24, 1994). ... Bourjos' father, Chris, is a scout in the Orioles' organization. ... Hunter is 27 for 63 with four homers and 13 RBIs during his hitting streak. ... DH Vladimir Guerrero faced the Angels for the first time in an Orioles uniform, going 2 for 5 after missing the three-game series at Baltimore because of a broken right hand. Guerrero, who won AL MVP honors in 2004 while playing for the Angels, was 22 for 74 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 19 games against them last season after signing as a free agent with the Rangers.