TORONTO (AP) -Howie Kendrick knows baseball can be ``crazy' sometimes. He's learned to find calm amid the chaos.
Kendrick and Juan Rivera homered, Joe Saunders pitched eight strong innings and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3 Saturday.
``He's seeing the ball well now and he's comfortable,' Saunders said of Kendrick. ``He's riding the confidence and it's fun to watch.'
Kendrick went 3 for 5 with three RBIs and scored twice, and the Angels won back-to-back games for the first time this season in handing the Blue Jays their first consecutive losses of the year.
Kendrick was sent to the minors last June 13, shortly after a difficult series in Toronto where he was benched after losing track of the number of outs and getting doubled off first base. He returned to the majors in early July and hit .351 the rest of the way.
The demotion helped Kendrick learn to keep his emotions in check when things aren't going well.
``It's just not really trying to get down on myself when a couple of games don't go the way I'd like them to,' Kendrick said. ``I've just got to stay with my approach and stay with the things that I continue to do day in and day out because eventually it's going to turn around.'
Kendrick acknowledged feeling insecure when the Angels arrived in Toronto last June for the series that led to his demotion. He was batting just .227 at the time.
``Last year when I got here I was kind of not sure of myself,' he said.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia has noticed changes in Kendrick since the stint at Triple-A.
``There's definitely a confidence around Howie,' Scioscia said. ``It resurfaced at the end of last year and it's with him now. If he has a bad game, he's good with his approach, he's good with getting to the next game and not trying to reinvent the wheel.
``This guy can swing the bat,' Scioscia added. ``He had a great day today and that's what he's capable of doing, being a big part of our lineup.'
Saunders (1-2) came in 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA, but was sharp Saturday in allowing two runs, none earned, and five hits. The left-hander walked one, struck out two, lowered his ERA to 4.26 and improved his record in April to 11-3.
``That's a tough lineup, they've got some power all the way through, and Joe really did well getting ahead and bringing all his pitches into the game,' Scioscia said. ``You couldn't pitch much better than Joe did this afternoon.'
Fernando Rodney closed it out in the ninth for his third save and second in as many days.
Los Angeles jumped in front before Blue Jays left-hander Brian Tallet (1-1) could record an out. Erick Aybar led off the first with a walk and Kendrick followed with a two-run homer to left, his first.
Rivera led off the second with a towering shot into the fourth deck in left, his third.
The Angels made it 4-0 in the third on back-to-back doubles by Torii Hunter and Hideki Matsui.
Sloppy defense allowed Toronto to halve the deficit in the bottom of the third. John McDonald doubled and scored when third baseman Brandon Wood couldn't come up with Mike McCoy's chopper down the line. McCoy wound up at second and scored when Wood threw wildly to first on a grounder by Alex Gonzalez.
Tallet allowed four runs and five hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out three, but struggled to command his cut fastball, the pitch he threw on both homers.
``I probably shouldn't have thrown it because I had no feel for it,' Tallet said.
Rivera padded the Angels' lead with an RBI single in the eighth off Jason Frasor, scoring Kendrick.
Gonzalez hit a two-out double to center in the bottom half, his 11th extra base hit this season. Lind followed with a single to right, but Gonzalez was thrown out at the plate by Reggie Willits when he was unable to slide around catcher Mike Napoli.
``Napoli made a great play,' Scioscia said. ``Anytime you take a run away, it's big.'
Kendrick made it 6-2 with an RBI single in the ninth off Kevin Gregg.
Toronto first baseman Lyle Overbay snapped an 0-18 slump with an RBI double in the ninth, boosting his average to .085. Rodney replaced Kevin Jepsen and ended it by retiring the next three batters in order.
NOTES: Attendance was 17,187, Toronto's second-biggest crowd this season. ... Blue Jays 3B Edwin Encarnacion (sore right arm) missed his third straight game and is day-to-day. ... OF Fred Lewis, acquired in a trade with San Francisco on Thursday, made his Toronto debut, pinch hitting in the ninth. ... Buffalo Bills WR James Hardy was at the game. ... Ervin Santana (0-2, 6.94) faces Ricky Romero (1-0, 1.80) in Sunday's series finale.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved