BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles have been waiting patiently for Alfredo Simon to prove he could be a valuable part of their 2012 starting rotation.
After 14 starts, Simon still has not provided the necessary evidence.
Simon yielded three homers and six runs over five innings Sunday in Baltimore’s 11-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. In his previous start, Simon gave up two runs in seven sparkling innings against Tampa Bay. In this one, he set the tone by walking Erick Aybar on four pitches to begin the game.
“It’s one of those things, we keep looking for guys to step up and put themselves in a position where you feel like you can trust them,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Some starts make you feel better about that than others.”
No one felt good about this one, not even Simon.
“I just tried to throw strikes and pound the zone, but I just got hit, so there’s no excuse for that,” he said.
Aybar went 4 for 4, homered twice and tied a franchise record by scoring five runs for the Angels, who are in frantic pursuit of a post-season berth. Los Angeles, which began the day 4 1/2 games in back of division-leading Texas, closed within four games behind Boston in the wild-card hunt.
“A very important win,” Aybar said through an interpreter. “I felt great being able to contribute to what was really a team effort. Eleven runs wasn’t just all my runs, so I feel good about that.”
The victory enabled the Angels to avert a three-game sweep against the last-place Orioles, who won the first two by a collective 14-5 score. It was the first career multihomer game for Aybar, who hit a solo shot in the third inning and a two-run drive in the fourth. His four hits tied a career high, as did his four RBIs. His five runs matched the club record set by Tim Salmon on April 12, 1998, at Cleveland.
Vernon Wells also connected for the Angels, who next play a four-game series in Toronto, their final destination on the road this season. Baltimore travels to Boston for four games, beginning with a day-night doubleheader on Monday.
“It would be nice to go up there and ruin their season,” Orioles catcher Craig Tatum said. “If we can do what we did to the Angels, it would be nice.”
Pitching on three days’ rest, Jered Weaver (18-7) allowed two runs and six hits in six innings. He is 12-3 since the beginning of June, and his 18 wins are two more than his previous career high.
“That’s why he’s one of the best pitchers in the game right now,” Tatum said. “He showed he can come back off three days’ rest and still be good. His ball moves, he locates, he keeps the ball down. He just didn’t give us much to hit.”
Vladimir Guerrero homered, tripled and had two RBIs for the Orioles, whose four-game winning streak ended. It was the 449th career home run for Guerrero, tied with Jeff Bagwell for 35th place on the career list.
After Aybar opened the game with a walk, Bobby Abreu hit an RBI double. Later in the inning, Simon hit Mark Trumbo with a pitch, prompting home plate umpire Laz Diaz to issue a warning to both sides.
One night earlier, Ervin Santana hit Baltimore’s Mark Reynolds in the helmet with a pitch. Reynolds, who did not play Sunday, said before the game that Santana purposely threw at him. And Simon didn’t deny doing likewise.
“We just got hit yesterday and I’m going to defend my players,” he said. “We just got hit hard and that’s what happens in the game.”
Brad Bergesen plunked Jeff Mathis on the helmet in the sixth inning but was not ejected. Bergesen did, however, appear to be obviously dismayed over the errant pitch. Baltimore tied it in the bottom of the first when Nick Markakis hit a two-out single — ending an 0-for-18 skid — and the 36-year-old Guerrero followed with his first triple since July 2010.
Aybar put the Angels up 2-1 in the third with his ninth homer, and Wells hit No. 22 with a man on in the fourth. Three batters later, Aybar drove a pitch over the right-field wall. Howie Kendrick doubled in two runs in the sixth off Bergesen, and Aybar hit an RBI double in a three-run eighth.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)