"He's not going to let three weeks out stop him," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's going to come out with guns blazing."
The four-hit night matched a career high for Guerrero and was the 16th time he's accomplished the feat. Darin Erstad extended his hitting streak to 14 games by going 3-for-4 with an RBI and three runs, while Dallas McPherson led off the fourth with his sixth home run of the year as the Angels scored five runs on six hits to salt the game away.
"His presence on the field as one of the elite players in the game means so much," Paul Byrd said of Guerrero. Byrd allowed one run over six innings to pick up the win. "Even if he goes 1-for-3, he lets other players see better pitches."
The Angels opened the series with the Nationals on the heels of a tough four-city, 12-game trip that concluded with a 6-6 mark, but the offense has been anything but mediocre. Over the last 16 games the club is hitting .323 and Monday night it threw gas on the fire. The 20 hits Monday were a season high for the Angels as all nine starters had at least one hit, while two of the four reserves also collected base hits.
"We're getting contributions from a lineup full of guys that are reaching their potential," Scioscia said. "Over the last few weeks we've seen it coming together."
Byrd (6-5) was the primary beneficiary of his teammates' lively night at the plate, but the right-hander held his own.
Brad Wilkerson led off the game with a sharp double to center, but Byrd responded by retiring six straight batters. He allowed a single and a walk in the top of the third, but neither baserunner reached home. Byrd then rang up a string of eight straight outs before Wilkerson again reached on a leadoff double in the sixth.
Wilkerson would score on a single by former Angel Jose Guillen. Byrd, though, was enjoying a 7-0 bulge and he ended his outing with just a run on four hits and a walk. He also struck out three to pick up his second win in his last five starts and first at home since May 10.
"If you score me 10 runs, I'll win a lot of games for you," joked Byrd, who said he battled a sore right triceps and used heat treatments throughout the game.
The bullpen stepped in with three scoreless innings as a couple of relievers who don't get their numbers called that often made solid contributions. Esteban Yan gave up a leadoff single in the seventh and then rebounded with six straight outs that included striking out the side in the eighth. Jake Woods tossed a perfect ninth.
"The big thing about the offensive night is we were able to give guys in the bullpen that needed the work and give guys a day off that needed it," Scioscia said.
Much pregame attention Monday was given to the return of Guillen. The last time the mercurial outfielder played at Angel Stadium, he threw his batting helmet when he took exception to being removed for a pinch-runner on Sept. 25. An exchange with Scioscia that carried from the field and later into the clubhouse essentially ended his days with the club.
Guillen was suspended for the remaining eight games of last season, a sentence that included the postseason. In November, Guillen was packed off to Washington for Juan Rivera and Maicer Izturis.
His lone contribution Monday was to keep the Nationals from being shut out when he singled off Byrd to score Wilkerson, but Guillen was treated to a chorus of boos every time he stepped to the plate or touched the ball in the field.
The Angels got out of the blocks early Monday when Erstad doubled with one out in the bottom of the first and scored on Guerrero's RBI single. Steve Finley later doubled into the right-field corner to drive in Guerrero for a 2-0 lead.
McPherson's homer in the fourth began a string of six straight Angels hits to lead off the inning before Garret Anderson bounced into a double play for the first outs of the inning. By then the Angels had added five more runs, with Chone Figgins' two-run triple to left being the defining shot in a frame that saw the club hit for the cycle.
"We're getting good pitches to hit and making good swings and not missing," McPherson said. "That is the difference for the team over the last few weeks."