CHICAGO — Now that Vladimir Guerrero is hitting the ball out of the park again, the Los Angeles Angels are downright giddy about how good they might be.
“Oh boy, it’s going to be exciting,” said Bobby Abreu, who along with Guerrero, Jeff Mathis and Erick Aybar went deep in the Angels’ 9-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.
“When the man gets hot, we all want to be on base for him. He’s going to drive in a lot of runs and we’re going to score a lot of runs.”
The Angels were scoring plenty without Guerrero, going 18-3 while the eight-time All-Star was on the disabled list with calf and hamstring injuries. Coincidentally, after he returned for Tuesday’s series opener, Los Angeles managed only six runs in two losses to the White Sox.
Things changed in a hurry on Thursday, when Guerrero hit John Danks’ first pitch of the third inning for his first home run since July 5. He entered the season with 392 homers but has only five in 187 at-bats this year.
Asked if he was frustrated to have played in only 49 of the team’s 106 games due to two DL stints, he said: “I don’t try to think about it too much because otherwise I would go crazy.”
The 34-year-old Guerrero, who is limited to DH duties, is in the final year of a six-year, $85 million contract, and his future will be on the line as the season winds down.
“I’ve missed a lot of time so I don’t want to spend time thinking about just me in the next two months,” he said. “It’s important … but I don’t want to get too caught up thinking about that because we’re a team here.”
Ervin Santana (4-6) settled down after a rocky start to last six innings for the Angels, but it was their offense that carried them to their AL-leading 32nd road victory.
Los Angeles entered the series as baseball’s hottest-hitting team, batting .315 with 50 homers and 256 runs in 34 games. In each of their four games before coming to Chicago, the Angels scored nine-plus runs, the first such streak in franchise history.
Los Angeles scored five times in the first two innings off Danks (9-8), keeping their lead at 4½ games over second-place Texas in the AL West going into this weekend’s three-game home series against the Rangers.
The White Sox, who fell two games behind Detroit in the AL Central, had opened their homestand with five victories in six games against the Angels and New York Yankees.
“The Angels have a lot of guys that don’t give away at-bats,” White Sox captain Paul Konerko said. “It’s tough for guys like that to go three days without success.”
Abreu’s homer leading off the fifth made it 7-4, extended his hitting streak to 12 games and gave him 250 career home runs. He joined Willie Mays, Rickey Henderson, Joe Morgan, Barry Bonds and Craig Biggio as the only players with 250 homers, 2,000 hits, 1,000 runs, 1,000 RBIs, 1,000 walks and 300 stolen bases.
“That’s pretty select company,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Bobby’s a terrific player, a complete player.”
Mathis hit a two-run shot in the second. Aybar, who also had two bunt singles, connected off Randy Williams in the ninth.
Santana allowed four runs on five hits and five walks. After giving up Jayson Nix’s three-run homer in the second, he walked home a third-inning run. Scioscia had a reliever warming up but Santana struck out Nix on a 3-2 pitch and retired Chris Getz on a grounder to get out of the jam. He then gave up only one hit in his final three innings.
Dewayne Wise homered off Kevin Jepsen in the ninth, the first RBI by a Chicago pinch-hitter all season.
Danks, who had been 4-1 with a 3.08 ERA in his previous six starts, gave up seven runs on nine hits and three walks in 6 1-3 innings.
“I got my butt kicked, that’s all you can say,” he said. “I wasn’t ahead in the count enough to make them hit my pitch.”
His fielders contributed to his woes. Third baseman Gordon Beckham’s throwing error let in a first-inning run. In the second, Chone Figgins scored on Aybar’s shallow fly because right fielder Jermaine Dye thought there were three outs after making the catch.
NOTES: If SS Alexei Ramirez returns Friday after missing seven games with a sprained ankle, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said the second-year player would bat low in the order because Beckham has excelled as the No. 2 hitter. … The four homers gave the Angels 74 in their last 48 games after hitting only 44 in their first 58 contests. Not coincidentally, they are 35-13 during their hot streak after a 29-29 start.