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OC Register: Angels grab early lead, end 7-game skid in Lucas Giolito’s home debut

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ANAHEIM — A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

The well-known Chinese proverb applies to the situation the Angels faced after their seven-game losing streak dropped their playoff chances from reasonable to minuscule.

Simply winning a game – one game – was the first step the Angels needed, and they achieved it on Tuesday night, jumping to a quick four-run lead and then hanging on for a 7-5 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

Before the game, Manager Phil Nevin expressed confidence that his team was going to start heading in the right direction soon.

“I know we have a run in us,” Nevin said. “I think I said a week or so ago, this could be our defining moment. We’re getting close to that. I don’t know what the bottom looks like, but it feels like I’ve hit it a couple times already.”

A few hours later, the Angels jumped to a four-run lead in the first inning, which was a welcome sight for a recently struggling offense.

Luis Rengifo led off with a double – his first of two in the game – and he scored on a Shohei Ohtani single up the middle. Brandon Drury pulled a single into left.

An out later, Mike Moustakas drove in a run with a single through the right side. Hunter Renfroe then doubled off the fence in right-center, knocking in two more.

Drury homered in the fifth, his first homer since coming back from a month-long stint on the injured list. Drury also doubled in the seventh, scoring on a Moustakas sacrifice fly.

The offense provided enough cushion for starter Lucas Giolito and a short-handed bullpen.

Giolito bounced back from his disastrous outing last week, when he gave up nine runs in Atlanta. Giolito, a Santa Monica native pitching his first home game in Southern California, gave up three runs in six innings. All the runs came in the third, when two walks and an infield hit contributed.

Otherwise, he was sharp. He retired the side in order in four innings. He struck out four of the last six batters that he faced.

The Angels had a 5-3 lead when Giolito finished his night in the sixth with 101 pitches.

Closer Carlos Estévez – who had blown his last two save opportunities – and setup man Matt Moore were both likely unavailable after pitching the previous two games.

Left-hander Aaron Loup worked a perfect seventh. He gave up a leadoff single in the eighth before giving way to Dominic Leone.

Leone gave up a two-run homer to Wilmer Flores, but then he retired the next three hitters on five pitches.

The Angels added an insurance run on a Matt Thaiss sacrifice fly before Leone returned to the mound in the ninth. He got through the inning, picking up his first save since last year.

More to come on this story.

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