PITTSBURGH -- The Los Angeles Angels' swings and misses of early this season are transforming into hits -- a lot of them -- and possibly the potential for a turnaround.
Kole Calhoun homered and drove in two runs and Johnny Giavotella's two-run single keyed a three-run first that started the Angels on their latest offensive outburst, a 9-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday.
Yunel Escobar, returning after sitting out three games with a sore left wrist, had two of the Angels' 15 hits, including a two-run single in the seventh. Every starter in the Angels lineup had at least one hit, except starting pitcher Jered Weaver.
"We swung the bats well and gave ourselves a cushion," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We've been seeing some upside. We're not going to score nine runs every night, but it's more along the lines of what we were seeing coming out of spring training."
The Angels, near the bottom of the AL West all season, are averaging 5.7 runs over their last 21 games, scoring seven or more 11 times. In April, they had nine games of two runs or fewer.
"The boys came out and swung the bats," Weaver said.
In a matchup of veteran starting pitchers coming off four uneven starts apiece, Weaver (5-4) easily outpitched Francisco Liriano (4-5), with the Angels right-hander giving up successive homers to Starling Marte and Jung Ho Kang in the second but no other scoring over six innings.
Weaver, starting against the Pirates for only the second time in his career, improved to 17-9 in 36 career interleague games, striking out five and walking one after being touched for 17 earned runs in his four most recent starts.
"(It was) nice to get an early lead, (it) took the pressure off," Weaver said. "A couple of bad pitches, but I felt OK for the most part. You can be more aggressive (with a lead) and (you) don't have to be as fine with pitches."
Weaver is pitching through neck tightness and still isn't 100 percent, but said: "You'll know when I'm feeling better. When you're 33 years old and have pitched a lot of innings, you're not going to feel 100 percent."
Liriano was in trouble from the start, giving up 10 hits and six earned runs in 3 1/3 innings while allowing at least one run in each of the four innings he started. The left-hander has yielded 11 earned runs in his last two starts and 22 earned runs in 26 2/3 innings over his last five.
"Good pitching's going to beat good hitting. That's never going to change. They have good hitters. We have good hitters. If you make mistakes, you pay," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
One night after four different Pirates position players were lifted with injuries during a 3-2, 12-inning loss in Miami, only center fielder Andrew McCutchen was back in the lineup as Pittsburgh lost its fourth in a row.
Liriano came in with some conflicting numbers -- a 3-1 record and 1.42 ERA in his four home starts this season, but 16 earned runs allowed over his previous four turns.
""I'm going through a tough time right now. I'm not executing the pitch and getting behind in the count," he said. "Like I said, I'm going through a tough time right now and I have to keep working, keep fighting and find a way to get better."
The Angels didn't have any trouble adjusting to what he was throwing as he struggled with his command, allowing three hits and walking two as the first five Los Angeles batters reached base. Mike Trout delivered an RBI single and Johnny Giavotella followed with a two-run single.
Los Angeles made it 3-0 in the second on Kole Calhoun's run-scoring groundout.
The Angels added two more runs in the fourth on Gregorio Petit's RBI double and No. 9 hitter Shane Robinson's run-scoring single.
Liriano was chased in the fourth after allowing three straight hits, started by Calhoun's drive into the seats in right-center -- so long that the Pirates outfielders didn't even turn to watch. Calhoun's fifth homer was his second off a left-hander this season.
NOTES: So many Pirates are fighting through injury issues, manager Clint Hurdle didn't finalize his lineup until about 30 minutes before game time while awaiting various medical reports. Before that, he issued a fake lineup that included himself, pitching coach Ray Searage and other staff members. ... Pirates RF Gregory Polanco, out for two games after fouling a ball off his left foot Tuesday was back in the lineup. CF Andrew McCutchen (right thumb) also started after leaving in the sixth inning of the Thursday night game in Miami. SS Jordy Mercer didn't start after getting hit in the right elbow by a fastball on Thursday, and neither did C Francisco Cervelli, who was hit in the right foot by a pitch in the same game. ... There was no injury update on 3B David Freese, who was hit on the right hand by a fastball in the eighth inning. ... Newly signed RHP Tim Lincecum was expected to start Tuesday night in New York against the Yankees, but he is saying he will make one more start in Triple-A ball. Lincecum, who could join the Angels by June 12, pitched five innings for Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday, giving up three runs and three hits while throwing 88 pitches against Tacoma. ... Angeles LHP Tyler Skaggs (shoulder), out for more than a month, is scheduled to begin pitching in extended spring training games.