ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – The Texas Rangers don’t feel they are out of the AL West race, which appeared up until now to be a two-team contest between the Los Angeles Angels and Houston Astros.
After taking the first two games of this three-game set with the Angels, the Rangers are feeling good about their chances.
Delino DeShields capped a three-run rally in the eighth inning with an infield hit that drove in the go-ahead run, and Rougned Odor homered in a 7-6 victory Saturday night.
“We’ve talked about games like this and what they could do for us,” manager Jeff Banister said. “They can be motivators for us, but they’re all important right now and we’ve got to complete the deal tomorrow and let this momentum ride for us. Anytime you’re playing an opponent that’s on top of you, you try to get yourself back into the mix of things.
“These guys have a lot of fight in them.”
Joe Smith (4-3) came on to protect a 6-4 lead for Angels starter Hector Santiago, but didn’t make it out of the eighth. Elvis Andrus raced home from third as Shin-Soo Choo grounded to first baseman Albert Pujols for a force at second, Robinson Chirinos singled home another run, and Josh Hamilton scored on DeShields’ high chopper to third.
“It was a weird inning. A lot of groundballs and some not right at people,” Smith said. “I’m a groundball pitcher, that’s no secret. If they don’t go right at people, or sometimes you chop ’em off the plate … it’s kind of one of those innings I’ve just got to forget about.”
Spencer Patton (1-0) earned his second big league victory with a hitless seventh inning. Struggling Tanner Scheppers pitched a hitless eighth and Shawn Tolleson got three outs for his 17th save in 18 attempts.
The Angels’ loss was their third in a row after seven straight wins, and kept them in a virtual tie with Houston for the AL West lead.
The Rangers narrowed the gap to 4-3 in the fourth with RBI doubles by Ryan Rua and Chirinos after a two-out walk to Choo, then tied it in the fifth with an unearned run against Santiago.
Pujols fielded Andrus’ checked-swing grounder wide of the bag and made a poor throw to shortstop Erick Aybar trying for the force. Odor, who drew a leadoff walk, scored from second on Pujols’ fourth error of the season.
But Pujols led off the bottom half with a double and scored the go-ahead run on a single by Aybar that chased starter Yovani Gallardo. Kole Calhoun, who had three RBIs, made it 6-4 in the sixth with an RBI single after a two-out triple by Johnny Giavotella.
“Honestly, I felt good. I thought I had a pretty good fastball and a good slider, but I was just trying to be a little bit too fine with my pitches,” said Gallardo, who is winless in his last five starts with three losses. “I can’t allow myself to do that. I have to be aggressive in the zone, because I can’t afford to fall behind hitters.”
Calhoun gave the Angels a 3-1 lead in the second, lining a two-run single to right field on a full count after Conor Gillaspie and Kyle Kubitza advanced on Gallardo’s two-out wild pitch. Calhoun tried to score on Mike Trout’s double to right and was thrown out.
The Rangers had two men in scoring position in the third after Santiago’s two-out wild pitch to Prince Fielder, who hit a grounder to second base. Giavotella made a poor throw to first, but Pujols bailed him out with a diving grab while keeping his foot on the bag.
The Angels added a run in the fourth when C.J. Cron reached on a strikeout-wild pitch with two out and came all the way home on Gillaspie’s double to left-center.
Odor, the Rangers’ No. 2 hitter, drove Santiago’s fifth pitch of the game deep into the right-field seats for his seventh homer – and sixth since his recall from Triple-A Round Rock on June 15.
“He pitched ahead in the count, so we were just trying to have good at-bats,” Fielder said. “You can’t really control much up there, but you can control your approach and see what happens.”
BAYLOR LAUDS BIGGIO
Angels hitting coach Don Baylor held the major league record for getting hit by the most pitches in a career before Craig Biggio broke it. On Sunday, Biggio will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. “He was probably a lot smarter than I was because he used an arm pad, so he didn’t take a lot of direct hits like I did. And I never saw him charge the mound because he knew he could steal a base,” Baylor said. “When I was a manager, I tried to get him to cross over from Houston to Colorado because I knew what type of player I was looking for — a leader on the field and in the clubhouse. He motivated a lot of guys just by the way he played, and he was a great inspiration for guys who weren’t 6-foot-2.”
Rangers: RHP Nick Martinez (5-5) is 0-3 with a 6.98 ERA in five starts since June 9, when he allowed one hit over six scoreless innings in a 2-1 win at Oakland.
Angels: LHP Andrew Heaney (4-0) brings a 1.57 ERA into his sixth start of the season. He has 27 strikeouts and just four walks in 34 1/3 innings, and has completed the seventh in each of his last four starts.