By JEFF BARTL
(AP) — Adam Jones hadn’t homered in 10 games leading up to his early exit in the Home Run Derby, but his power surge over the past few days has helped the Baltimore Orioles pick up a couple of key victories.
He’ll look to help provide some run support for starter Miguel Gonzalez as visiting Baltimore seeks a third victory in four tries Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Angels.
Jones wasn’t hitting for power or driving in runs – he had one RBI in that 10-game stretch – leading up to the All-Star break, though that hasn’t been the case lately. He hit a three-run homer in the first inning and had five RBIs in Saturday’s 8-4 win over Oakland, then hit two-run shots in the first and sixth of Monday’s 4-2 victory over the Angels.
The second homer broke the tie as the AL East-leading Orioles (54-44) moved four games ahead of the New York Yankees and Toronto, both losers on Monday.
“I just try to bring what I bring to my team,” Jones said. “I swing. I’m hacking. Sometimes you run into them.”
Jones is 3 for 8 with a homer off Los Angeles starter Hector Santiago and looks to stay hot as Gonzalez takes the mound in this contest.
Gonzalez (4-5, 4.04 ERA) is coming off two of his best starts of the season, pitching eight innings in each to tie his careerhigh. He allowed one earned run in a 3-2 loss to Boston on July 5 before giving up two runs in a 3-2, 10-inning win over the Yankees on July 11.
The right-hander has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 13 of his last 14 starts. He was sent to the minors after his last outing to stay fresh through the All-Star break and allowed three runs in six innings in a win for Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday.
“His split is a pitch that’s been there for him when he’s been effective, and (that outing) was a good example,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Gonzalez also went eight innings the last time he faced the Angels on June 11, 2013, allowing one run on Mike Trout’s homer in a 3-2 victory. He’s 2-1 with a 2.14 ERA in three starts against Los Angeles, which has lost two of three and fell two games behind Oakland in the AL West.
Josh Hamilton and Hank Conger drove in runs for the Angels (59-39), who are just 3-3 in Anaheim following an 11-game home winning streak.
Santiago (2-7, 4.32) will look to help get them back on track as he returns to a starting role.
The left-hander picked up his first win as an Angel on July 10 by allowing four runs – three earned – and striking out eight in six innings of a 15-6 victory over Texas, then earned a win in relief Friday with 2 2-3 scoreless innings in a 3-2, 16-inning victory over Seattle.
“I was actually kind of happy I got in that game,” Santiago told MLB’s official website. “I didn’t want too many days off.”
Santiago is 1-7 with a 4.72 ERA as a starter and has made four relief appearances. He spent his previous three seasons with the Chicago White Sox and posted no record, one save and a 3.86 ERA in two starts and two relief outings against the Orioles.
Angels All-Star Erick Aybar said he’ll be ready for this contest after missing the previous three with a sore right groin.
Updated July 22, 2014
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