Now that their final interleague series of the season is over, the Miami Marlins play out the rest of their schedule with a deeper appreciation of what Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels are all about.
Trout tied a career high with his 30th home run, Gordon Beckham homered for the first time with his new club, and the Angels improved baseball's best record to 79-53 with a 6-1 victory over the Marlins on Wednesday night.
"We definitely were tested here against a playoff team," said manager Mike Redmond, whose team is four games out of the second NL wild card with 30 games remaining. "We came in that first night and swung the bats really well and pitched really well. But we just weren't able to do that the last two nights. We've got to understand with a month to go, we've got to step it up and we've got to be able to win ballgames against playoff-caliber teams."
Henderson Alvarez (10-6) gave up five runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings after winning his previous four starts. The right-hander had pitched shutouts in his previous three interleague starts.
After Adeiny Hechavarria opened the scoring in the third with his sixth homer in 1,100 career at-bats to that point, the Angels took the lead with three runs in the bottom half.
Trout hit an RBI single, Kole Calhoun scored on Albert Pujols' groundout, and Josh Hamilton lined an RBI double off the center field fence. Hamilton missed his first homer at Angel Stadium this season by just a few feet.
"That's a really good lineup. Those guys grind you out," Redmond said. "You get two strikes on them and they battle and put the ball in play. They have speed, they have power, they've got it all. We've got to be able to slug with them, and we just couldn't do that. We got down early and we couldn't get much going offensively."
Hamilton has nine RBIs in his last eight games, following an 11-game stretch in which he had none in 41 at-bats and struck out 18 times.
"I finally stopped trying to figure out mechanical things. I think the biggest breakthrough for me was realizing it — that it's not mechanical," Hamilton said. "I go up there now and do what I've always done. I think I'm at a point right now where, OK, I've got a month left. Can I be the player I want to be? Can I be the player they paid me to be? Yeah, I can. How am I going to approach that? I'm going to take it one game at a time and continue to remind myself to cut it loose."
Trout, who leads the majors with 71 extra-base hits and 283 total bases, chased Alvarez with a drive into the trees beyond the center field fence to make it 5-1.
"Trout had about four or five hits this series, and I don't think he pulled the ball. So that was pretty impressive," Redmond said. "He has great plate discipline, he stays inside the ball and he gives you a great at-bat. That's a nice piece for them."
Angels lefty Hector Santiago (4-7) ended a string of six consecutive no-decisions in a starting role, helping the Angels maintain their one-game lead in the AL West over Oakland.
Santiago struck out six in 5 2-3 innings and allowed three hits. He fanned his next five batters after Hechavarria's homer and didn't allow another hit until Jeff Baker's two-out single in the sixth.
Marlins: RHP Bryan Morris, who hasn't pitched since Saturday because of a groin strain, will remain in Miami and receive treatment for a couple of days before his status is re-evaluated.
Angels: INF Grant Green, who hasn't played since July 20 because of a back problem, is with Triple-A Salt Lake on a rehab assignment. The club is waiting to see how his back responds before activating him once the rosters expand to 40 on Sept. 1.
Marlins: Tom Koehler (9-9, 3.82 ERA) pitches the opener of a three-game series at Atlanta on Friday night against Ervin Santana, who has won his last six starts at Turner Field — including a 6-1 verdict against Miami's Nathan Eovaldi on July 23.
Angels: C.J. Wilson (10-8, 4.59 ERA) opposes Sonny Gray (13-7) Thursday night in the opener of a critical four-game set against the Athletics at the "Big A." The Angels dropped two of three at Oakland last weekend, including Gray's 5-3 victory.