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AMERICAN LEAGUE


AMERICAN LEAGUE
Joe Saunders didn't have his best stuff, calling Tuesday night's start "the definition of a battle." Shortstop Erick Aybar took his eyes off a routine throw from first base, a mental gaffe that cost two runs.

Chone Figgins and Kendry Morales broke one of Baseball's unwritten rules -- thou shall not make the first or third out at third base -- by making the first and third outs of the seventh inning at third base.

Manager Mike Scioscia was so concerned about struggling setup man Scot Shields that he went to the mound in the eighth inning, demanding to know whether Shields was physically OK. And closer Brian Fuentes gave up a home run in the ninth.

Another night of doom and gloom for the team that has cornered the market on bad news this season? Hardly. The Angels beat the Baltimore Orioles, 7-5, in Camden Yards, becoming the last team in Baseball to win consecutive games this season.

"A lot of good things happened on the field," Scioscia said, "but there were some things we definitely need to clean up."

The good:

* Saunders, despite command problems, threw six innings, giving up four runs -- two earned -- and 10 hits, to improve to 5-0 against the Orioles and 10-1 with a 2.14 earned-run average in April.

"When you fall behind hitters you're going to get hurt," Saunders said. "This was one of those games you know isn't going to be easy . . . but the hitters picked me up."

* Maicer Izturis and Bobby Abreu hit consecutive run-scoring doubles in the third and Howie Kendrick crushed Adam Eaton's hanging, 1-and-2 slider for a two-run home run in the fourth, the second baseman's second home run in as many games.

Kendrick, who has six hits and eight runs batted in in his last three games, joked after Sunday's win that he "started doing yoga and meditating in the morning." He continued the theme Tuesday.

"I did some soul searching today, got stretched out in a bow-and-arrow position," Kendrick said, grinning. "Sometimes you react to mistakes, and that's what happened tonight."

The bad:

* With runners on first and second in the third, Aybar, thinking he would catch a throw from first on Aubrey Huff's grounder, spin and fire a back-door throw to third, took his eyes off the throw.

The ball nicked off his glove for an error, allowing the Orioles to load the bases. Melvin Mora and Ty Wigginton hit run-scoring singles, and Lou Montanez added a sacrifice fly, giving Baltimore a 4-2 lead.

* Figgins led off the seventh with a double to center field but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple. Izturis singled and took second on Jamie Walker's controversial balk, and Torii Hunter, whose run-scoring groundout in the fifth put the Angels ahead, walked with two outs.

Morales doubled to right field for two runs and a 7-4 lead, but he stopped around second before going to third, where he was easily thrown out to end the inning.

"He misread the play -- that was not good base running," Scioscia said of Morales. "It took two strong throws to get Figgy. We'll live with that one."

* Fuentes gave up a leadoff homer to Adam Jones before retiring the next three batters for his fourth save. Shields, who entered with a 10.80 ERA, threw a scoreless eighth despite a leadoff walk, but the inning didn't inspire much confidence in his manager.

"He's battling some things with his lower legs, and the ball was not coming out of his hand well," Scioscia said. "We're going to pay a lot of attention to him to make sure he's where he needs to be."

Shields was bothered by shin splints in spring training, but he was defiant Tuesday in the face of questions about his health.

"My leg is fine," he said. "It's not affecting my mechanics. Tonight wasn't the best I could throw, but it was still a step in the right direction."

--

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 29, 2009

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