ANAHEIM, Calif. — Kole Calhoun, Luis Valbuena and the Los Angeles Angels seem to be hitting their way out of a long funk.
Valbuena homered twice, Calhoun connected for the second consecutive game and the Angels defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 8-5 on Thursday night.
The Angels have won two straight after dropping seven of eight. They handed the Blue Jays their ninth loss in 10 road games.
Calhoun launched a two-run homer off John Axford (1-1) in the fourth inning to put the Angels ahead 4-3. The right fielder went 1 for 3 with a walk, scoring on Martin Maldonado's double in the sixth, and is 4 for 10 in three games since returning from a stint on the disabled list because of a strained oblique muscle.
"He looks so calm, so comfortable out there. I think he's seeing the ball much better, more plate coverage. All the things that lead to positive results seem to be in his game," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Calhoun, who was hitting .145 before the injury.
Valbuena made it 6-3 with his two-run shot to center field in the fifth, and added a solo drive to right in the seventh. It was his eighth career multihomer game.
The streaky Valbuena was 5 for 40 over his previous 11 games and hadn't homered in his last 18. Valbuena went deep twice in that game at Detroit on May 29, and Scioscia had thought that would mark the beginning of a turnaround.
He has the same belief now, and is willing to trade any barren stretches for when Valbuena gets in a groove.
"If you look at Luis' track record, he gets real hot and at times he gets cold," Scioscia said. "There's no doubt there is more OPS in his game, especially against right-handed pitching. Once he finds it, he usually swings the bat like he did the second half of last year, and that's something we're going to need."
Even the Angels' erratic bullpen did its part, as Noe Ramirez (3-3) retired all eight batters he faced — striking out four — after relieving John Lamb in the fourth. Justin Anderson got his third save.
Lamb, a late replacement for injured Los Angeles starter Tyler Skaggs, went 3 1/3 innings. Lamb gave up three runs, six hits and one walk in his first career start at home.
For the Blue Jays, they couldn't remedy their road woes despite home runs from Randal Grichuk, Lourdes Gurriel and Kendrys Morales.
"They got a couple big homers off Ax. I mean, he's been dominating left-handers all year, and two leftys got him today. We hung around, but we just couldn't get anything going late," Toronto manager John Gibbons said.
TROUT AT 1,000
Mike Trout went 0 for 2 with three walks in his 1,000th career game, ending his hitting streak at eight games. Trout, who has reached base in 31 of 47 plate appearances over his last nine games, was the designated hitter and is not expected to be used in the outfield during the four-game series because of a sprained right index finger.
Blue Jays: Toronto starter Aaron Sanchez was pulled after the first inning due to a bruised right index finger. The Blue Jays said X-rays did not reveal any further injury. "He'd been pitching pretty good lately, but hopefully this isn't a big deal," Gibbons said.
Angels: Skaggs was scratched because of tightness in his right hamstring. Scioscia said there's a chance Skaggs could start Sunday.
Blue Jays: RHP Marco Estrada (4-6, 4.66 ERA) tries for his third straight win. Estrada has allowed three runs in 18 2/3 innings over his last three starts.
Angels: LHP Andrew Heaney (3-5, 3.64) has won three of his last four starts at home, including a one-hit shutout against Kansas City on June 5.