- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) - Joe Blanton needed a near-perfect outing to remain in contention for a Los Angeles Angels’ rotation spot and he delivered.

Blanton allowed just one infield single in five scoreless innings and an Angels’ split-squad routed the Texas Rangers 12-1 Wednesday.

Blanton lowered his ERA from 14.29 in his first two outings to 7.59.

Blanton, a 33-year-old right-hander who has won 10 or more games in a season five times, made 20 starts last year, but was sent to the bullpen in late July with a 2-13 record and 5.66 ERA.

“He looked very comfortable out there,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I think he made pitches he capable of that he’s been struggling to do for last year and into spring training. So it was good to see.”

Blanton, who is in the second year of a $15 million contract with the Angels, is listed No. 6 on the rotation depth chart.

“He worked very hard this week with (pitching coach) Mike Butcher and (special assistant) Marcel Lachemann and he moved over to the third base side of the rubber and I think he was able to do some more things from there,” Scioscia said.

Collin Cowgill hit a three-run homer on a 0-2 Alexi Ogando fastball in a five-run second when the Angels batted around.

John McDonald went 2-for-2 with a two-run double in the second and a RBI single in the fifth.

Ogando, who has been used as a reliever and starter the past three years, is competing for a starting job.

“I think you learn from your mistakes and need games like this,” Ogando said through an interpreter. “The most important thing is I feel healthy and fine. I’m trying to take this lesson and prepare for the next game.”


Angels: Blanton threw 52 strikes in 76 pitches and struck out five of the first 11 batters he faced. In his previous outing, Blanton was roughed up for seven runs and eight hits, including four home runs, in 3 1-3 innings against the Rockies.

Rangers: Ogando tossed a spotless first inning, but threw 32 pitches in the five-run second.

“I threw a lot of mistake pitches,” Ogando said. “First men were on first and second and the next thing you knew they were on second on and third and I threw a mistake pitch and the hitter connected for a home run. I was trying to get it up in the zone and it just kind of stayed down there.”

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