By STEPHEN HAWKINS AP Baseball Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Isiah Kiner-Falefa matched a career high with four hits, Nick Solak drove in a pair of runs and the Texas Rangers had a few rookies get some big firsts in a 7-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night.
John King (1-0) gave up one unearned run over two innings to get his first big league victory, Eli White’s first career hit was an RBI double in a decisive five-run fifth inning, and speedy center fielder Leody Taveras stole home.
“We’re all excited honestly every day. They bring it,” manager Chris Woodward said. “One thing we know about these kids, they’re fearless.”
The Rangers, who have turned their focus on younger players for the last stretch of the shortened season, have won consecutive games for only the third time this year. They had lost six in row, and 18 of 21, before winning the series opener Tuesday. They also ended a stretch of seven consecutive series losses by taking the first two games in the three-game set.
King (1-0), the lefty who was the third of seven Texas pitchers, made his second career appearance. He came on after 37-year-old reliever Jesse Chavez retired the only two batters he faced — Shohei Ohtani and Albert Pujols — to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the third after rookie starter Kyle Cody had issued three consecutive one-out walks.
“To come in and keep the game right there, it won us the game,” Woodard said. “That game could have blown wide open.”
Instead, it was the Rangers who busted loose in the fifth. Rookie Anderson Tejada had a one-double before coming home on White’s first big-league hit.
“There’s definitely some relief mixed in with some excitement,” said White, who opened his career 0 for 17. “Now I can just play.”
Matt Thaiss homered for the Angels, a solo shot in the seventh. They had arrived in Texas with season-best, five-game winning streak.
After White’s tying hit, Texas went ahead on Solak’s sacrifice fly that made it 3-2 and chased Angels starter Julio Teheran (0-3).
“White hit that double down the left field corner on a hanging slider. Otherwise, I thought he threw the ball well,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “They really didn’t hit the ball hard against him, if you replay all their hits. He had a great sinker going today. … I give them credit for battling through some at bats.”
Joey Gallo’s RBI single greeted reliever Hoby Milner, who didn’t retire any of the four batters he faced. The bases were loaded when Milner walked Rougned Odor and then hit Ronald Guzman with a pitch.
Texas added a run in the sixth on a double steal, with Taveras racing home on the throw when Kiner-Falefa stole second base.
“Taveras waited until the ball was in the air before he took off,” Woodward said. “A well-executed play.”
Albert Pujols hit a double in the sixth inning, the 668th of his career to tie Craig Biggio for fifth on the all-time list. Pujols has now gone 21 games without a homer, stuck on 659, one short of tying Willie Mays for fifth on that list.
DOZEN FOR IFK
Kiner-Falefa had a leadoff double in the fourth, and scored on Solak’s single. Kiner-Falefa is hitting .447 (21 of 47) during a 12-game hitting streak, and his fourth career four-hit game raised his batting average 20 points to .322, and into the top five averages in the American League.
Angels: OF Justin Upton was out of the lineup because of bruised left wrist after getting hit by a pitch and coming out of the series opener. Maddon said Upton was upbeat before the game and “feeling pretty good.”
Rangers: C Jose Trevino left the game in the middle of an at-bat in the fourth with a left wrist sprain. X-rays were negative. … OF/INF Danny Santana had right elbow surgery, and is expected to be sidelined at least seven months. Santana, who played only 15 games this season, hasn’t played since Aug. 26, before going on the injured list for the second time this season. … Shin-Soo Choo was put on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Tuesday, with a sprained right hand. Odor was activated after missing 11 games because of an eye infection.
The Rangers go for only their second series sweep of the season — they also won all three games at home against the Angels from Aug. 7-9. Right-hander Dylan Bundy (4-2, 2.49) pitches for Los Angeles, while right-hander Kyle Gibson (1-4, 6.16) starts for Texas.