The Los Angeles Angels send Vargas to the mound hoping he can continue his mastery of the Orioles on Tuesday night and help them avoid a fourth consecutive loss.
Although Vargas (5-3, 3.71 ERA) is coming off his worst start in almost a month, there's probably no opponent he'd rather see than Baltimore.
The left-hander was picked as the AL pitcher of the month in May after going 5-0 with a 2.30 ERA in six starts, but he wasn't able to continue that run Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs . Vargas was tagged for five runs and a season-high 11 hits over five-plus innings in an 8-6, 10-inning loss.
Included in Vargas' stellar month was a three-hitter in a 4-0 win over Baltimore on May 3. He is 2-2 with a 1.65 ERA - his best against any AL team - in seven starts versus the Orioles, notching complete games in the past two.
"He's one of those guys that you know what he's going to do coming in," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I thought when they made that acquisition in the offseason, it was one of the better ones made under the radar."
Los Angeles' disappointing season continued with a 4-3 loss in Monday's series opener despite home runs from Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton in a contest delayed 2 hours, 14 minutes by rain in the sixth inning. The Angels (27-37) went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position in their eighth loss in 10 games.
"It's not like we came out after the rain delay and put our heads down," Trout said. "We gave ourselves a chance and just fell short."
Trout's homer was his seventh against Baltimore, tied with Texas for his most against any club. Five of those home runs have come in the teams' last eight games.
The Orioles (36-28) got a two-run homer and a sacrifice fly from Jones and beat Los Angeles ace Jered Weaver to win for the seventh time in eight home contests.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy has hit safely in eight of nine games this month, batting .485 with three homers, four doubles and seven RBIs.
Heading in the opposite direction is slugger Chris Davis , hitless in his last 16 at-bats. He's 2 for 12 with four strikeouts against Vargas, though one of those hits was a home run.
Miguel Gonzalez (3-2, 4.05) seeks a measure of revenge after he was the losing pitcher opposite Vargas in May. He gave up three runs over six innings, including homers to Trout and Mark Trumbo , who has two in four at-bats off the right-hander.
Looking to rebound after a disappointing start against Detroit, Gonzalez was sharp in a 3-1 victory at Houston on Thursday. He limited the Astros to one run in six innings and matched a season best with seven strikeouts en route to his first win since April 23.
Gonzalez, who earned his first career win against the Angels last season, is 1-0 with a 5.11 ERA in four home starts this year.
|Los Angeles Angels|
|June 02, 2013||Garrett Richards||Day-to-Day||Left game - Ankle injury|
|May 28, 2013||Josh Hamilton||Day-to-Day||Back spasms|
|May 27, 2013||Sean Burnett||15-Day DL||Left elbow inflammation|
|May 26, 2013||Sean Burnett||Day-to-Day||Left game - Forearm tightness|
|May 21, 2013||Erick Aybar||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee soreness|
|April 30, 2013||Peter Bourjos||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|June 06, 2013||Steve Johnson||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|May 24, 2013||Pedro Strop||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|May 24, 2013||Pedro Strop||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|May 13, 2013||Wei-Yin Chen||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|May 12, 2013||Nolan Reimold||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|May 12, 2013||Wei-Yin Chen||Day-to-Day||Right oblique strain|
BALTIMORE (AP) -- Both teams were outstanding defensively. The pitching was sharp, too.
A well-played game between the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles was ultimately turned on one swing by Nick Markakis , who has made a habit of delivering the big hit in pressure situations this season.
Miguel Gonzalez allowed one run over eight innings and Markakis hit a tiebreaking, two-run single in the seventh inning to give Baltimore a 3-2 victory Tuesday night.
Light-hitting Ryan Flaherty contributed two well-timed hits for the Orioles, whose third straight victory put them a season-high nine games over .500 (37-28). Baltimore will seek to complete a three-game sweep on Wednesday afternoon.
With the score tied at 1, the Orioles used two-out infield hits by Danny Valencia , Steve Pearce and Flaherty to load the bases in the seventh. Left-hander Scott Downs was then brought in to face Markakis, who lined a single to center for a 3-1 lead.
"You want to be in those situations," said Markakis, who's now batting .346 with 10 RBIs when there are two outs and runners in scoring position. "I've faced Downs enough to know what he's going to do up there. He tries to sink the ball in on lefty's hands and he does a good job of it. I was just looking for a ball up in the zone.
"Anything up that I could reach, I was swinging. He left one up over the plate, I put a good swing on it and we scored two runs."
Markakis also made two fine plays in right field, third baseman Manny Machado made several fine pickups and first baseman Chris Davis snagged a smoking line drive that began an unassisted double play.
But Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos made the defensive play of the night, robbing J.J. Hardy of a two-run homer in the first inning. After retreating toward the warning track, Bourjos pressed his body against the wall with a perfectly timed leap, stuck his glove well over the 7-foot barrier and caught the ball.
"When fans come to a game, that's what they expect - good defense, hitting and good pitching," Markakis said. "You saw that tonight, and it was a good ballgame."
Especially for the Orioles. Los Angeles lost its fourth in a row despite getting a solid outing from left-hander Jason Vargas and a home run by Mike Trout that traveled an estimated 448 feet.
"Both guys were throwing the ball well," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I really liked the way Jason Vargas pitched tonight. Three infield hits in the seventh inning kind of set the table for them and they got the big hit from Markakis."
Vargas (5-4) allowed three runs, seven hits and a walk in 6 2-3 sharp innings. The loss ended the left-hander's five-game winning streak - a run that started with a shutout of Baltimore on May 3.
"That happens when you leave runners on base," Vargas said. "Granted, the balls weren't hit that well."
Howie Kendrick had two hits for Los Angeles, which has dropped nine of 11.
Gonzalez (4-2) gave up four hits, walked one and struck out five.
Jim Johnson got two outs in the ninth before Josh Hamilton doubled and scored on a single by Albert Pujols . Johnson then struck out Mark Trumbo to earn his 23rd save, and third in three games.
Poised to throw his first career complete game, Gonzalez was removed by manager Buck Showalter after throwing 96 pitches.
Asked if he wanted to go nine innings, Gonzalez said, "That would have been fun. But Buck knows what he's doing, and J.J. did a good job finishing the game."
Trout put the Angels up 1-0 in the fourth with his 12th home run, the second in two nights. It's the ninth time in his career he's homered in successive games.
In the bottom half, Hardy was thwarted in a second straight at-bat. After being victimized earlier by Bourjos, Hardy popped a foul toward the seats in left. As Trout prepared to make the catch, a fan wearing a Trout jersey stuck his glove in the way. The ball bounced off the fan's mitt and landed on the ground, but third base umpire Joe West called Hardy out because of fan interference.
Held to two hits through five innings, the Orioles pulled even in the sixth. No. 9 hitter Flaherty singled and Markakis followed with a single that momentarily handcuffed Bourjos for an error, putting runners at second and third. Manny Machado followed with an RBI grounder, providing Baltimore with its first run against Vargas in 15 innings this season.
NOTES: Machado extended his hitting streak to nine games with a first-inning single before being picked off first base by Angels C Chris Iannetta . ... Baltimore's Chris Davis ended an 0-for-16 skid with an infield hit in the first inning, although replays showed he was out at first. ... Jason Hammel (1-3, 7.33 ERA at home) starts for the Orioles in the series finale Wednesday. Jerome Williams will be on the mound for L.A. ... Trout's eight homers against Baltimore are his most against any opponent.