The 23-year-old retired the first eight batters he faced and didn't give up a hit until Mike Trout's infield single in the fifth. Trout moved to third on Erick Aybar's single and scored on a sacrifice fly by Bobby Wilson.

That was the extent of the trouble experienced by Britton (10-10). He struck out a career-high seven while getting his first win since Sept. 2.

"I know I'm capable of it. The last couple outings, it just came down to fastball command. It was better tonight," said Britton, who has tied injured righty Jake Arrieta for the team lead in wins. "Obviously, it can still improve, but it allowed me to go deeper in the game. So I feel like I've had good stuff. It's about putting it together, and I'm starting to do that."

After the rough beginning, Santana (11-12) settled down and pitched six scoreless innings. The Orioles picked up an additional run in the eighth against reliever Garrett Richards when Trout misplayed Chris Davis' double to right, allowing Matt Wieters to score from first.

The Angels (82-69) struck back in the ninth on Vernon Wells' RBI triple against Jim Johnson. The inning included a highlight-reel catch by Nick Markakis, who jumped against the right-field wall to take away extra bases from Torii Hunter.

The outcome was seemingly decided in the first, however, after the Orioles ripped Santana and put the Angels in a serious hole.

"You could just kind of see it in their faces right there," Britton said. "Those guys are going for the hunt, and then they give up five in the first and you could see the defeated look in them, just a little bit. But it feels good to take some games from teams in the hunt."

The Orioles go for the three-game sweep Sunday -- which would be their first at home since June 6-8 against the Oakland Athletics.

They can also add to their growing resume as a pennant-race spoiler, though Showalter is downplaying that role.

"You want to present yourself well, regardless of who you are playing. It's more about presenting the Orioles well than it is trying to beat a team still in it," Showalter said. "Down deep, we are all jealous [of] where they are, playing meaningful games in September. We are not trying to make someone's life miserable, it is just that we are trying to make ours more palatable."

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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