04/26/07 8:32 PM ET
Colon dominates as Halos sweep Rays
Righty strikes out 11 to stay unbeaten behind lively offense
By Sandy Burgin / Special to MLB.com
Colon (2-0, 1.93 ERA), who improved to 9-1 lifetime against the Rays, allowed just four hits, walked one and struck out 11, including the side in the seventh as he left the game to a standing ovation.
Colon's 11 strikeouts were his most since June 4, 2005, in Boston, when he struck out 11 in six innings. His career high is 14 on May 29, 1998, at Toronto over nine innings.
The lone runs Colon allowed came on a two-run home run by Carlos Pena in the fourth inning, but the Halos already had a nine-run lead.
The Angels, who finished off a 6-1 homestand, have won nine of their last 10 games and 17 of their last 18 series against the Rays, including a 26-7 mark at Angel Stadium since 2000.
The Rays came into the game having given up the most runs in the Majors (135), and the Angels added to that misery by scoring in each of the first four innings. They built a 6-0 lead on Tampa Bay starter Jae Seo (1-2) with the help of Vlad Guerrero's sixth homer of the season in the five-run first inning.
"Bart was as good as we've seen him," said manager Mike Scioscia. "And that is encouraging that he can maintain his stuff for a pitch count over 100 and stay strong and finish so strong.
"Bart is all the way back physically. Now his challenge is to maintain it start after start and year after year," added Scioscia.
Colon, too, was pleased with his second strong outing after coming back from a right rotator cuff tear that sidelined him last season.
"I'm getting more comfortable on the mound with each start," said Colon. "I expected to be stronger, this being my second start, and thank God that I did."
Strangely enough, Colon didn't think he got stronger but he wanted to extend himself as he got to the seventh, when he struck out the side.
"My first three innings, I actually felt stronger than my last inning," said Colon. "What I told myself the last inning was that I wanted to let it loose to see how my arm was really feeling. At that point, I had built enough stamina. I really wanted to test it to see how good it was, and it came out pretty good."
Colon said he wasn't worried about his shoulder.
"So far, I haven't felt any pain, even the day after I've pitched," said Colon. "I have no concerns whatsoever and just ask God to let me continue until the end."
On this homestand, the Angels' offense has given their starting pitchers a big boost early, with leads of 8-0, 7-0, 7-0 and Thursday's 9-0 margin.
"It feels good," said Colon, "but at the same time, it is another challenge and you have to treat it like a close game."
The Angels had a dozen hits and 11 runs by the fourth inning.
In fact, Brandon Wood, making his Major League debut at third base for the Angels and hitting ninth, got to bat in the first inning. He struck out on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning. He was 0-for-4 for the day with two strikeouts and made one play in the field on a pop up to third.
Gary Matthews Jr. and Shea Hillenbrand each had three hits. Matthews, who has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games, has had multihit games in each of his last six games to raise his average from .217 to .302.
Hillenbrand has hit safely in six straight games and his double in the first was his first extra-base hit of the season.
Erick Aybar extended his career-best hitting streak to seven games with a two-run single in the first.
Garret Anderson, who had two hits and scored two runs, had a double giving him six extra-base hits in his last 10 hits.
"What has given us separation on this homestand has been our ability to hit with runners in scoring position," said Scioscia. "The top of our order with [Matthews] and Orlando [Cabrera] have been doing what we thought they could. And [Guerrero] and [Anderson] and the guys in the middle of the lineup have been hitting with guys in scoring position."
Chris Bootcheck pitched the last two innings for the Angels, giving up an RBI double to Carl Crawford in the eighth.
The Angels headed off to Chicago on Thursday night to begin a seven-game road trip.
Sandy Burgin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.