ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Orioles center fielder Adam Jones wasn’t worried at all that participating in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby would mess with his swing in the second half of the season.
Jones said he seldom deviates from his swing-from-the-heels power stroke. And while he didn’t win the Home Run Derby, he has put on quite a power display for the Orioles since returning for the start of the second half.
In Monday night’s series opener against the Los Angeles Angels, Jones hit a pair of two-run homers off rookie right-hander Matt Shoemaker for his fifth career multihomer game, providing the Orioles with all the offense they needed in a 4-2 victory in front of an announced 39,028 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
“I swing,” Jones shrugged. “I’m hacking. And sometimes you run into them.”
In four games since the All-Star break, Jones has three homers and nine RBIs. He also homered and drove in five runs, tying a career-high, in Saturday’s win over the Oakland Athletics.
With the win, the Orioles (54-44) extended their American League East lead over the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees to four games. The Orioles are 13-8 against the AL West this season and have won 13 of their last 19 road games.
“They’re one of the [best], especially here,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of the Angels. “They’re tough, period. We’re going to be playing in this division for a while here. This is a very challenging schedule as it is for everybody. The biggest challenge is how good a team they are. We were real fortunate tonight to make it hold up.”
With Jones’ two homers, the Orioles now have 121 home runs this season -- the most in the major leagues.
The Orioles struck out a season-high 15 times on the night and were outhit, 8-6. Shoemaker, making his first appearance after 14 days off, tied a career-high with 10 strikeouts. But he made two mistake pitches to Jones.
“Didn’t know anything about him, but that’s what scouting reports are for,” Jones said. “Had an idea of what he does, but no one has seen him. Go up there and the best way is trial and error.”
Orioles right-hander Bud Norris navigated through a dangerous Angels lineup tactfully, limiting Los Angeles to two runs (one earned) and eight hits over 6 2/3 innings while stranding seven base runners.
Norris, who was optioned to Double-A Bowie in order to get work over the All-Star break after making just one start following his return from the disabled list, has allowed two or fewer runs in four of his last five starts. Norris walked five on a hot day in Bowie a week ago, but he came away Monday with a strong outing against one of the best lineups in baseball.
“When you miss 15 days and you’re off rotation, you’re not working out, stuff like that, you get out of sync,” Norris said. “I had a great first half, so when they came to me with this, I had no problems with it. I was glad to get the Double-A start in and get a bullpen in on my own.”
In five career starts against the Angels, Norris (8-6) is 4-0 with a 0.78 ERA.
“Every time I play here it’s been a pretty close game,” Norris said. “Not too many games have been barn burners. So, I got a big two-run spot early, it was huge. You are just trying to find momentum and find your groove, so I think as the game went along, I got a little bit better.”
After dropping two of three in Oakland, the Orioles’ 10-game West Coast road trip didn’t get any easier Monday, when the club opened a three-game series against an Angels team that entered the night having won 14 of 17 games in July.
And when the Orioles took an early lead, it seemed to play right into the hands of an Angels team that has a major league-leading 30 comeback victories.
Following Jones’ two-run homer three batters into the game, Shoemaker (7-3) retired the next 15 hitters he faced. Nick Markakis’ one-out double into the right-center field gap in the sixth snapped Shoemaker’s run of dominance.
Two batters later, the dull sound of Jones sending an 82-mph hanging slider well over the left-center field fence for his 19th homer of the season silenced the home crowd.
Jones’ homer, which landed to the left of the rock fixture beyond the fence, was measured at 443 feet by ESPN Stats and Info, the longest home run by an Orioles player this season.
It came five innings after a similar scene played out.
After Markakis opened the game with a single, Jones took a 2-0 fastball up in the zone and sent it over the left-field fence and into the Angels bullpen to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead.
The Angels (59-39) answered in the bottom half of the inning. After leadoff hitter Kole Calhoun singled, Mike Trout hit a groundball to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who threw it past second baseman Jonathan Schoop for an error.
Despite facing the Angels with two runners on base and no outs in the first inning, Norris held them to just one run that inning. Following Josh Hamilton’s one-out RBI single, he induced an inning-ending 4-6-3 double-play ball.
Norris' best work of the night might have been escaping the fifth by allowing just one run. Howie Kendrick opened the inning with a ground-rule double to right field, followed by a walk to David Freese. Two batters later, Hank Conger’s single to right field drove in Kendrick to tie the game.
Norris then struck out No. 9 hitter John McDonald before an infield single by Calhoun loaded the bases for Trout, who entered the night hitting .342 with runners in scoring position and was 4-for-6 with the bases loaded.
But Norris struck out Trout looking with a 2-2 fastball down in the zone that was clocked at 95 mph on the stadium radar gun.
“There was a lot of big outs through that,” Showalter said. “They’ve got a potent lineup, and you’re just picking your poison all the way through there. … [Sometimes] you get a lot of borderline calls go your way. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t.”
Norris struck out Trout again in the seventh inning on another called third strike low in the zone, but he left the game after allowing a two-out walk to Albert Pujols.
He then watched as left-hander Brian Matusz made quick work of Hamilton, striking him out on three pitches to end the inning. Hamilton is 0-for-12 with eight strikeouts against Matusz in his career.
After Darren O’Day tossed a scoreless eighth, closer Zach Britton converted his 17th save in 20 opportunities with a scoreless ninth. Britton remained in the game after a comebacker by pinch-hitter Erick Aybar hit him in his glove-side elbow.