ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Mike Scioscia wasn't kidding when he said things are going to change around the Angels' clubhouse.
The first salvo came after Friday night's 11-6 victory over the San Diego Padres, when slumping second baseman Howie Kendrick was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake because of his .231 batting average. Maicer Izturis, who started in place of him, tied a career high with four of the Angels' 18 hits.
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Scioscia held an edgy closed-door meeting with his players following Thursday night's embarrassing 11-1 defeat to the Rays -- their fourth in five games.
"We weren't happy about some of the things we saw in the last couple of games in Tampa, and they were addressed by a lot of guys," Scioscia said. "There's some real leadership in this room, and these guys sensed it. They talked some things out and played a great ballgame tonight. We did a lot of great things on that field and we didn't let up. We need to get back into that grind mode."
The two-time defending AL West champions, who trail first-place Texas by 4½ games, responded quickly after their manager's challenge. In the first inning, they scored three runs -- and it took only three batters to do it. Chone Figgins doubled, Bobby Abreu hit the first of his three RBI singles, and Torii Hunter homered into the left-field bullpen.
"Mike aired us out and got on our butts, and we came out today with a little more fire," Hunter said. "The timing was right. We needed that. You can't get used to losing. And tonight we looked like the team we're supposed to be. We should be like this day in and day out. Mike said the right things and we took heed to it. We tried to leave it all on the field tonight and not be too laid-back. That's what we were doing in Tampa and Detroit."
The mood in the clubhouse was quiet despite the victory because of Kendrick's departure. Hunter, whose locker is right next to his, spoke with the four-year veteran privately before addressing reporters.
"I just talked to him about my experiences getting sent down in 1997 and '98," Hunter said. "Every time I got sent down, I got upset and got a little more fire because I wanted to get back to the major leagues to stay. And that's what he's going to do. This can't do anything but hopefully tick him off and give him a lot more fire."
Scioscia doesn't expect Kendrick to be in the minors for long, but he felt this decision was necessary.
"We feel it's time for Howie to go down and just take a little pressure off of him, let him exhale a little bit, get some at-bats and find his swing," the manager said. "Hopefully it's going to be a big turnaround, but it's tough to search for it up here. I know he's pressing."
Kendry Morales also homered for the Angels and Bobby Abreu had three RBI singles in support of right-hander Matt Palmer (6-0), who allowed four runs -- three earned -- and 10 hits over six innings in his first start since May 30.
Palmer was put back in the rotation after Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher determined that Kelvim Escobar didn't have the stamina to start regularly again after recovering from shoulder surgery last July, and moved him to the bullpen instead.
Chad Gaudin (2-5) gave up eight runs and 10 hits over three-plus innings in his ninth start this season and seventh on the road.
"My velocity was there and my location was there, but they hit it where we weren't," Gaudin said. "I threw a hanging slider to Hunter, which was a bad pitch, but the fastball to Morales was a good pitch. If I had the same situation, I'd throw the same pitch."
Los Angeles broke a 4-all tie with five runs in the fourth, including Morales' leadoff homer.
Kevin Kouzmanoff was 3 for 4 with a two-run homer.