Jeremy Guthrie allowed just four hits and no runs in 8 1/3 innings,… (Getty Images )
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Orioles' resurgence in the past month has seamlessly dovetailed with the hiring of manager Buck Showalter, baseball's handyman who continually demonstrates a knack for fixing dilapidated teams.
Since he took over Aug. 2, the club with the then-worst record in baseball suddenly is winning plenty more than it loses, feasting on scuffling clubs like the Los Angeles Angels, who have lost their grip on any postseason hopes.
On Sunday, the Orioles won 1-0 to complete a three-game series sweep and a six-game season sweep of the Angels, a club that had never before lost every contest against the Orioles in one season -- a trend that dates back to when they began playing each other in 1961.
"We know it is [difficult]," Showalter said. "When you realize how much the want-to is there for [the Angels] and the need-to, it makes it that much more impressive. But it reminds you again, pitching makes a lot of things look sharp."
Pitching, frankly, has made Showalter look brilliant in his early Orioles tenure.
For all of his deft handling of personnel and tireless preparation, Showalter's impressive honeymoon with the Orioles -- which includes a 16-10 record, the first victorious road trip of 2010 and the first winning August in 13 years -- can be attributed to one common denominator: the Orioles' pitching has been downright lethal in August.
Consider this: the Orioles' best ERA for a month this season before Showalter took over on Aug. 2 was in April, when the pitchers posted a 4.62 mark. Their worst was in July, a 5.72 ERA.
In August, the Orioles are throwing to a tune of 3.57.
"I think it is a case of you see guys pitching well, you see how they are doing it and gaining confidence. I think it gains the confidence of the defense. They have played really, really well," said Orioles right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, who allowed four hits, one walk and struck out five in 81/3 scoreless innings Sunday. "Everything defensively builds confidence, the pitcher, the defense and that's what has allowed us to be able to do that."
Guthrie (8-13) was outstanding from his first pitch. He struck out the side in the first and retired the first eight batters he faced. He allowed a single and then mowed down seven more.
His outing, the 16th quality start of 2010 for Guthrie, was nearly unblemished through eight innings. The only real trouble came in the sixth, when he allowed a walk, and a bunt single before inducing an inning-ending double play.
The Orioles scored their lone run the next inning, when Matt Wieters hit a sacrifice fly against Jered Weaver, the Angels' hard-luck loser. Weaver (11-10) struck out 11 and allowed just five hits and a walk in eight innings, but for the third consecutive time with Weaver on the mound, the Angels were shut out.
Los Angeles nearly rallied in the ninth, with a one-out double and infield single against Guthrie. But Michael Gonzalez struck out Bobby Abreu and Koji Uehara earned his fourth save by throwing just one pitch -- a game-ending pop-up by Torii Hunter.
It was the second consecutive night that the Orioles hurled a shutout -- something the club hadn't done since July 2007 -- with Kevin Millwood leading the Orioles to a 5-0 win Saturday. Going back to Friday's first inning, when Brad Bergesen balked in the Angels' lone run in a 3-1 Orioles victory, the club kept the Angels scoreless for 26 consecutive innings.
That set a season-high for both the Angels' lackluster offense and the Orioles' suddenly dominant pitching staff.
"To be able to do that, to pitch well, and see one guy pitch well and then follow it up with another one and then all of a sudden the third guy pitches well and we roll four out of five good outings," Guthrie said. "That's the way teams win."
The Orioles (49-83) have posted 18 quality starts in their last 26 games, all under Showalter. Things have gone so well that a blown call in the sixth -- Josh Bell was ruled out after a collision at home when he clearly slapped the plate before he was tagged by catcher Jeff Mathis -- didn't affect the outcome.
"Usually something can happen to give you an opportunity to overcome an umpire's call," Showalter said. "And we did."
Guthrie overcame even more. He began experiencing lower back tightness after the sixth, but it didn't hurt while he was throwing, so he stayed in and produced one of his best outings of 2010 -- keeping the Orioles' starting rotation on a torrid pace as August nears its end.
"If you look back, we really haven't had success from multiple starters over the past three years up until this year at this point in the season," Guthrie said. "This is unfamiliar territory, but hopefully we can make it the norm instead of a rare occurrence."
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