Justin Bour returned from his banishment to the minors with a slightly tweaked swing and a renewed hunger at the plate.
With another huge game in his June power surge, both the slugger and his Los Angeles Angels are showing it's not too late to get something great out of their up-and-down season.
Bour hit two homers, Mike Trout scored the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning and the Angels got back above .500 with a 5-1 victory over the slumping Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night.
Immediately after Trout scampered home on David Fletcher's infield hit, Bour followed with an impressive three-run homer. He also hit a solo shot in the fifth inning of his first multihomer game since joining the Angels in the offseason.
"I've felt good for a while now, and it's just a matter of contributing when I get the opportunity," Bour said.
Bour has four homers in five starts since returning to the Angels from that monthlong stretch at Salt Lake. He was batting .163 when he was sent down, but a more upright batting stance and the reality check of 19 games of Triple-A ball have snapped Bour back into focus.
"A lot of it was just getting my own body out of the way," the burly first baseman said. "There's a lot of me, so it's just about getting out of the way. ... Home runs are great, but I just feel comfortable and in control in the box."
Bour came through on an important night for the Angels (41-40), who hit the halfway point of their season with six wins in nine games after this two-game interleague sweep. Los Angeles hasn't been two games above .500 all season, but the returns of several injured regulars are inspiring optimism among the Halos for this final stretch before the All-Star break.
Bour knows he won't get extensive daily playing time behind Albert Pujols and Shohei Ohtani, who went 3 for 3 with a walk. But he feels ready to make the most of limited action.
"The guy that we've seen since he's gotten recalled is the guy that we were hoping to see," Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. "Looks like the Justin Bour that we signed."
Yasiel Puig homered in the fifth for the Reds, who lost four straight to close out their six-game road trip. Although the Reds didn't make as many blatant mistakes Wednesday as they did in Tuesday's embarrassing defeat , Cincinnati scored just two runs in 18 innings at the Big A.
"This little stretch here really tests your resolve to bounce back," manager David Bell said. "Good teams that have good seasons find a way to bounce back."
Starters Tanner Roark and Jaime Barria worked quickly and efficiently amid the pitcher-friendly shadows at Angel Stadium to open a rare early-starting weekday game.
Roark allowed four hits and pitched into the sixth inning for the Reds, striking out six in his first career appearance at the Big A.
Barria tossed five innings of three-hit ball for the Angels, striking out six in a strong fill-in start.
The Reds hadn't hit a ball hard against Barria until Puig led off the fifth with a line-drive homer to right, his 17th of the season.
Bour tied it with a solo shot off Roark moments later.
"It was an OK pitch," Roark said. "I didn't think it was going to hurt me, but it did."
Cam Bedrosian (3-3) pitched around Justin Upton's two-base error in left field to work a scoreless eighth. The Angels' bullpen pitched 7 2/3 innings of scoreless, two-hit relief in the two-game series.
GOING IN FRONT
Right before Bour's second blast, the Angels eked out a go-ahead run.
Trout walked leading off the eighth and advanced on a wild pickoff throw by Raisel Iglesias (1-7). After Ohtani singled Trout to third, Cincinnati got two outs before David Fletcher hit a deep grounder to shortstop Jose Iglesias, who couldn't get off a throw.
Reds: C Tucker Barnhart was in the initial starting lineup, but was scratched about two hours before the first pitch due to soreness in his right side. He hadn't played since Saturday.
Angels: Four hours before the game started, Ohtani threw off a mound for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery Oct. 1. The two-way star threw 40 pitches and made 70 additional throws on flat ground. He won't pitch until next season, but his recovery is proceeding smoothly. ... Trevor Cahill was reinstated from the injured list. The $9 million starter will come out of the bullpen for now, and he pitched two innings of two-hit ball in relief of Barria.
Reds: After an off day, Sonny Gray (3-5, 4.03 ERA) is back on the mound in Cincinnati on Friday for a series opener against the Chicago Cubs.
Angels: Rookie right-hander Griffin Canning (2-4, 3.88 ERA) takes the mound when they open a four-game home series with the Oakland Athletics and Tanner Anderson (0-2, 4.20).