Guthrie shuts down Halos to seal sweep

Guthrie shuts down Halos to seal sweep

ANAHEIM -- The Orioles had never swept a season series from the Angels until Sunday, and at perhaps no point this season had they play better than they did this three-game series. They certainly hadn't pitched any better.

Jeremy Guthrie followed up stellar outings from Brad Bergesen and Kevin Millwood with 8 1/3 scoreless innings and the Orioles beat the Angels' Jered Weaver, 1-0, at Angel Stadium.

Los Angeles scored just one run in the series, in the first inning of the first game in Friday's 3-1 win, on a balk. The next 26 innings were all blanks. The last time the Orioles had shutouts on back-to-back days was 2007.

"This is really unfamiliar territory, but hopefully we can make it one of those regular things," Guthrie said. "To pitch well, see one guy pitch well, follow it up with another one. All of a sudden the third guy pitches well, then you roll four out of five good outings. That's the way teams win."

Through 610 games and 51 seasons of head-to-head play, the Orioles had never swept the Angels in a single season. They took all six meetings in 2010.

More telling of the recent struggles the Orioles have seen, they hadn't swept a three-game series on the road from any opponent since June 2009 -- a four-game sweep of the Rangers in Texas this season aside.

"Since '61? You mean period, out here?" Showalter asked a reporter.

Period.

"We know how hard it is," Showalter said of the difficulty of sweeping the Angels. "They're clinging on, hoping they can put together a string [of wins] and Texas has a little swoon there. But when you realize how much the want-to and the need-to is there for them, it makes it that much more impressive. It reminds you again that pitching makes a lot of things look sharp."

Guthrie, who battled back tightness, was masterful, striking out five, walking one and allowing four hits. The Angels threatened in the sixth, when they had runners on the corners and one out, and again in the ninth in the same situation. A 6-4-3 double play got Guthrie out of the sixth, and his bullpen got him out of the ninth.

Mike Gonzalez did exactly what he set out to do when he came in to face Bobby Abreu with the tying run just a sacrifice fly away: strike him out.

"There's a guy on third base, I don't want to take the chance of him hitting on the ground and finding a hole somewhere," said Gonzalez, who got Abreu on a 2-2 slider down. "Before today he was 2-for-2 off me. It was one of those things where I hadn't figured him out yet, but it was game time. The biggest thing was the man on third base. I needed that strikeout."

Koji Uehara ended the game and notched his fourth save on just one pitch, which Torii Hunter popped up.

The Angels' Jered Weaver struck out 11 in eight innings was just as effective as Guthrie until the seventh, when Matt Wieter's one-out sacrifice fly broke the scoreless tie. Luke Scott singled and Ty Wigginton doubled to start the inning.

"Obviously, those are the games you're supposed to win," Weaver said. "But Baltimore has always played us tough. [The O's have] been playing well under Buck over there and they're a team you can't take lightly, obviously."

Baltimore nearly broke through at the plate an inning earlier, in the sixth. According to Showalter and Josh Bell, the reason they didn't was because of a bad call.

On second base to start the play, Bell tested the arm of center fielder Peter Bourjos on Nick Markakis' two-out line drive single that Bourjos picked up on one hop. Bourjos came in with four outfield assists in 20 starts, but his throw to the plate was high, and Bell took out catcher Jeff Mathis' legs, upending him as he caught the ball.

With both players on the ground just behind the plate, Bell reached out for it with his right hand. Home-plate umpire Brian Gorman called him out.

"First it was, 'He tagged him on the collison,'" Showalter said. "And then he changed to, 'He tagged him before he got to the plate.' I'm not real sure he was sure."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia disagreed.

"He was out," Scioscia said. "I thought Jeff tagged him before he got back to the plate. I know he didn't tag the plate on the first go-round. I didn't see a replay, but that's what I saw from the dugout."

The Orioles are 16-10 since Showalter took over, and their pitching has put up 18 quality starts in those 26 games. On Saturday, the team clinched its first winning August since 1997.

The good feelings, though, could be fleeting. The Orioles head home for an off-day before a six-game homestand starts with Boston on Tuesday.

"You know, you move on," Showalter said. "I feel good for our players. You can tell, this always makes the off-days real good. This one should be a good one for 'em."

Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.