ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — After Justin Anderson got two outs in the ninth inning, the Angels reliever got two strikes on three consecutive batters. All three drew full-count walks when Anderson couldn’t get a call.
With the Angels’ bullpen on the brink of collapse for the second straight day, Anderson dug in and made sure another Angels starter’s strong effort wasn’t wasted.
Tyler Skaggs pitched six scoreless innings of four-hit ball and Justin Upton homered in Los Angeles’ 3-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Sunday.
Anderson got Isiah Kiner-Falefa on a popup to complete his second career save, but only after walking the bases loaded in three at-bats totaling 21 pitches. The Angel Stadium crowd thought Anderson had struck out the last two — pinch-hitter Joey Gallo and Shin-Soo Choo — but the pitches didn’t persuade home plate umpire Chris Conroy.
“I didn’t realize how bad I got squeezed until I came back inside and watched some of the video,” Anderson said. “But that’s part of it, and you’ve just got to make the most of those days and do what you can.”
While Skaggs’ stellar performance completed a weekend series in which the Angels’ three starting pitchers allowed no earned runs, the Los Angeles bullpen nearly gave away another game after wasting a stellar performance by Garrett Richards in a 10-inning loss Saturday night.
After Skaggs left, Noe Ramirez gave up Nomar Mazara’s 14th homer in the eighth. Anderson then survived the ninth on 34 pitches, including 10 after a full-count pitch to Gallo that looked a strike to nearly everybody in the park — including Angels catcher Jose Briceno, who rose swiftly out of his crouch in anticipation of the game being over.
“You can go back and look at it,” Anderson said. “The ball is right there in the zone. I’m not saying that’s on Briceno at all. That umpire missed that call.”
Luis Valbuena had an early two-run double as the Angels managed only four hits, but took two of three from their AL West rivals.
Skaggs (4-4) ended his six-start winless skid despite laboring for long stretches of his six innings. The left-hander needed 70 pitches to get through the first three innings alone, but still managed to keep the Rangers scoreless while walking three and striking out six.
“I think we all want to one-up each other,” Skaggs said of the Angels’ starting pitchers, who lead the AL with a 2.56 ERA since May 1. “It’s a quiet competition, and I think we’re all doing a good job.”
Choo had two doubles while reaching base in his 20th consecutive game for the last-place Rangers, who went 3-4 on their road trip.
“I loved how patient we were,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said of the ninth inning. “We had some guys at the plate with some really good looks.”
The Angels went up 2-0 in the second inning when Shohei Ohtani and Zack Cozart doubled and Valbuena drove them home.
Upton’s homer was his 12th of the season, but the veteran slugger’s first in 16 games since May 15.
Doug Fister (1-6) provided another solid, innings-eating start for the Rangers, giving up four hits and three runs in six innings. He retired 13 consecutive Angels between Valbuena’s RBI double and Upton’s solo homer.
“Really efficient game from Doug,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “Lot of ground ball outs. Very weak contact.”
Mike Trout went 0 for 3, ending his six-game hitting streak. The center fielder also appeared to be shaken up after running into the wall while catching Delino DeShields’ long drive in the fifth inning. Trout stood with his hands on his knees for a long moment, but stayed in the game. “Mike is OK,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “He banged his knee into the wall a little, but we anticipate him playing (Monday).”
Ohtani began the Angels’ rally in the second inning when he singled for just his second hit since May 24. He is scheduled to pitch Wednesday against Kansas City on his usual once-a-week mound schedule. The Angels gave extra rest time to their two-way rookie before his last start in Detroit.
Rangers: LHP Martin Perez threw another bullpen session. He is on the disabled list with nerve inflammation in his right arm.
Angels: Cozart returned from a four-game absence with a strained left forearm. The Angels’ regular third baseman played shortstop, his former position in Cincinnati, to give a rest day to Andrelton Simmons, who had missed only two previous games all season.
Rangers: After a day off, Matt Moore (1-5, 7.85 ERA) looks for a turnaround start when Texas opens a two-game home series with Oakland.
Angels: Nick Tropeano (3-3, 3.80 ERA) takes the Big A mound Monday in the opener of a three-game series with Kansas City. The right-hander has capably filled a gap in Los Angeles’ rotation, and he will attempt to win three straight starts for the first time in his big-league career.
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