ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Mark DeRosa's versatility has allowed the Texas Rangers to keep his bat in the lineup on a regular basis and enhance their chances of dethroning the Los Angeles Angels as AL West champs.
DeRosa hit his third career grand slam Friday night and the Rangers took over second place in the AL West from the Angels with a 7-3 victory. The 31-year-old utilityman, playing in his fourth full season, is the only player in the majors this season to start at six different positions. Three players did it last year, including the Angels' Chone Figgins.
"DeRo is extremely valuable to this team, to have a guy play as many positions as he does," Rangers center fielder Gary Matthews said. "He can realistically play anywhere on the field except catcher and pitcher. And if you give him a little time, he might be able to add catcher to the list.
"Not only do we need to get his bat into the lineup, but he gives us the opportunity to still keep certain people in the lineup because we can plug DeRo in at other positions."
Mark Teixeira, whose 12th-inning home run Thursday night gave the Rangers a 7-6 victory in the series opener, was walked his first three times up by John Lackey (10-7). The third one came in the fifth, preceding a single by Hank Blalock that loaded the bases with one out. DeRosa then drove a 2-1 pitch into the lower seats in the left field corner, giving Texas a 7-2 lead.
"We know how good Lackey is and how productive he's been this year. And to be able to catch him on an off night, it's big for us," DeRosa said. "I knew he was scuffling with his command a little bit and his pitch count was up, but he's also capable of putting you away at any time. I was just looking for something up that I could lift and put in the outfield. I was able to catch it clean and I got lucky."
DeRosa's eighth homer matched his career high from last season and sent Lackey to his second-fastest exit in 23 starts this year. It was only the third home run off the right-hander in his last 10 starts, and the second grand slam he has allowed in 873 1/3 career innings. The other was on June 10, by Seattle's Richie Sexson.
"The best thing that happened to us was Mark DeRosa's grand slam because we were able to separate the score a little bit," Blalock said. "I mean, you keep these guys close and they're real tough in the late innings with their offense and their bullpen -- especially in this ballpark."
Vicente Padilla (11-7) allowed three runs and seven hits over seven innings, helping send the Angels to their third straight loss. The right-hander struck out five and walked none. Garret Anderson homered for Los Angeles.
Padilla is 3-2 with a 3.98 ERA in five starts since he was arrested for drunken driving on July 7 in Dallas County, and will continue to pitch for the Rangers until his case is resolved. According to newspaper reports, general manager Jon Daniels wasn't aware of the arrest until Monday. Padilla was pulled over by a Dallas police officer who spotted him running a red light and driving erratically, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
Padilla, who leads the Rangers in wins, was pitching on six days' rest after surrendering seven runs and nine hits over 3 2/3 innings in an 11-3 loss to Kansas City on July 28. He was scheduled to start on Wednesday at Minnesota, but was held back two days because of the acquisition of Kip Wells from Pittsburgh at the non-waiver trade deadline.
"He was able to reach back and get a little more fastball tonight when he needed it," manager Buck Showalter said. "You can't go out there with full guns all the time. It's tough to do in the American League because you can't coast with these lineups. Vinny had a couple extra days' rest, and he kind of showed it today."
Lackey gave up seven runs, six hits and six walks over 4 1/3 innings in his first start since being named AL pitcher of the month for July, an honor he earned with a 5-1 record, 2.08 ERA and 30 2/3 inning scoreless streak.
"I didn't really much command anything," Lackey said. "I got into trouble and needed to make pitches, I wasn't able to do that all night. They've got a good lineup, so you've got to be careful. I might have been a little bit too fine early on."
Vladimir Guerrero went 2-for-4 to extend one of baseball's most peculiar streaks. He has hit safely in all 44 games he has played against Texas in his career, the longest stretch by any player against one team since 1957 -- which is as far as Stats Inc. has been able to research it.
- Padilla is 4-0 with a 2.36 ERA in four starts this season when pitching on six days' rest, as opposed to 7-7 with a 4.81 ERA in his other 19 starts.
- Anaheim's Adam Kennedy was 0-for-2 with a sacrifice fly, ending his hitting streak at a career-best 17 games. Teammate Howie Kendrick had a double to extend his streak to 14 games.