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Gonzalez returns from All-Star break stint in minors to beat Angels 4-2

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ANAHEIM, Calif. - For the second straight night, the Baltimore Orioles got a strong performance from a starting pitcher who spent the All-Star break in the minor leagues and stayed on his regular routine. It worked for Miguel Gonzalez, just like it did for Bud Norris.

Gonzalez took a two-hit shutout into the eighth inning, Jonathan Schoop homered and J.J. Hardy hit two RBI doubles to lead the Orioles to a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.

Gonzalez (5-5) was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk, where he was optioned on July 11 so that he wouldn't get stale after consecutive eight-inning no-decisions. Norris, who was optioned to Double-A Bowie on July 10, beat the Angels 4-2 Monday night in his return to the rotation.

'We're fortunate they both had (minor league) options," manager Buck Showalter said. "I think Bud was a day away from not being able to get optioned because of his service time, so it was a good catch by our front office.

"It worked out well for both of them because they also got to spend some time in their hometowns out here. You just don't want to see guys lie around too long during the break and be inactive, but we have a lot of starters with options. So that's why we were able to do it."

Gonzalez (5-5) allowed two runs and three hits in 7 2-3 innings, including a two-run homer in the eighth by All-Star game MVP Mike Trout after a walk to No. 9 hitter Hank Conger. The Angels' other hits against Gonzalez were singles by Efren Navarro in the third and fifth innings.

"I think it was beneficial for me, to go down there and keep doing what I was doing, and not getting that extra rest — especially after the last two outings I had," Gonzalez said. "I'm pretty happy about everything in general tonight. I gave us a chance to win a ballgame."

Showalter added: "That's as good as you can see a guy pitch, especially in a hostile environment against a really good team. That's about as sharp as I've seen Miggy in a while. He had everything working and everything at his disposal, and he had command of it."

Tommy Hunter, making his 200th career appearance, retired Albert Pujols on a grounder for the final out of the eighth and Zach Britton pitched a perfect ninth for his 18th save in 21 chances.

Hunter, who was converted into a full-time reliever by the Orioles last season, lost his closer role to Britton in mid-May after consecutive blown saves. Since then, Hunter has yielded three runs and struck out 11 in 18 1-3 spanning 17 appearances — and has not allowed an earned run in a career-best 12 straight outings. Britton has allowed eight runs and fanned 27 in 29 1-3 innings over 29 appearances since taking over as closer.

"So far, Zach's done a good job," Showalter said. "But who knows? We might need Tommy to go back there again. I don't know if anybody's smart enough to know exactly how things are going to turn out. But so far, so good."

Angels left-hander Hector Santiago matched zeroes with Gonzalez through five innings, allowing just two hits before rookie Mike Morin took over in the sixth.

"Early on I was just trying to battle a little fatigue," Santiago said. "I was kind of under the weather the last couple of days. I definitely felt the fatigue kind of like building up right there in that first two innings. Then I just had a high pitch count, so I had to maintain myself and control it."

Morin (2-3) threw his second pitch into the dirt and to the backstop as his left knee appeared to buckle. Manager Mike Sciocsia went out with a trainer to check on him, and the right-hander made three warmup tosses before striking out Adam Jones and Nelson Cruz.

But Chris Davis reached on an infield hit and came all the way around on Hardy's double to right-centre. Schoop homered to left-centre two pitches later for his eighth homer — all on the road.

Schoop was originally in the No. 9 spot in the order, but got bumped up to seventh after third baseman Manny Machado was scratched just before game time because of tightness in his lower back.

"I've never had something like this before. It just spazzed up on me," Machado said. "The trainers worked on it a little bit and I went back out there before the game, but it kept locking up on me. So I thought it was just better to sit it out and let someone else take my place and help the team win. It's still a little tight, but I got a shot and we'll see where we are tomorrow."

Hardy drove in Baltimore's final run in the eighth against Fernando Salas.

NOTES: With the victory, the Orioles ended the Angels' streak of 10 consecutive series won at home. RHP Chris Tillman puts his 6-0 road record on the line against Jered Weaver in Wednesday night's series finale. ... The Angels hadn't lost a series at the "Big A" since May 5-7, when the Yankees took two of three. ... The Orioles cleared a spot for Gonzalez on the 25-man roster by optioning RHP Preston Guilmet to Triple-A.

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