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Santana, Matthews Jr. lead Angels sweep of rival Rangers

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A slow start last season cost the Los Angeles Angels at the end. This time, they're at least out of the gate fast.

Ervin Santana held Texas to four hits in seven innings, Gary Matthews Jr. made another leaping catch and Los Angeles beat the Rangers 5-3 Wednesday for only the fourth 3-0 start in franchise history.

"We're playing good baseball," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We still have some things we're trying to clean up, but all in all, we've had a lot of good things happening."

The Angels outscored the AL West-rival Rangers 17-7 and left Texas rookie manager Ron Washington still looking for his first victory. The Angels had last opened with a three-game sweep in 2004 at Seattle.

Last year, the Angels struggled to a 17-28 start and didn't sweep a three-game series until July 3-5 at Seattle. Their 54-29 record from July on was the best in the major leagues, but they still missed out on the postseason after winning consecutive division titles.

Vladimir Guerrero, a scourge of Rangers' pitchers, singled in another run in the series finale. He went 6-for-11 (.545) in the three games with a homer, a double and five RBI. In 57 career games against Texas, he is batting .437, with 21 homers and 50 RBI.

The Angels' Garret Anderson, healthy for the first time since 2003, doubled and singled in the series-closing win. He also made a fine sliding catch in left field and scored twice, the second time beating the throw home by second baseman Ian Kinsler on Howie Kendrick's grounder.

Casey Kotchman, considered one of the team's best hitting prospects before a viral infection sidelined him for most of last season, went 5-for-9 and drove in three runs in the series.

Matthews went 5-for-10 and scored four times against his former team, and he also had several defensive gems in center field, including a leaping catch above the fence to rob Michael Young of a homer in the first inning Wednesday.

"I knew right away when I hit it that, 'Hey, he's got a play on that,'" Young said. "If he doesn't, it'll be just out of his reach or right against the wall and he'll jump. I've seen him do that before. He's one of the best."

Francisco Rodriguez, who led the majors with 47 saves last year, picked up two in the series, although he gave up a run on Brad Wilkerson's ninth-inning sacrifice fly in the finale.

Washington said he knows the Rangers are better than they looked in the three games, but conceded that the Angels did a good job -- especially starters John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar and Santana.

"I think you've got to give credit to their pitching staff. They were bending, but they didn't break. We worked their pitch counts up, but they still hung in there," Washington said. "And once you let the Angels get into the eighth and ninth innings, it's usually over with (Scot) Shields and Rodriguez. We respect those guys over there, but we know we can play with them."

Los Angeles took a 4-0 lead in the first off Brandon McCarthy (0-1), with two of the runs unearned because of Young's error at shortstop. Guerrero singled home one run and Anderson doubled in another.

Santana (1-0) struck out six. Hector Carrasco followed with a perfect eighth and Rodriguez ended it by striking out Nelson Cruz with runners at the corners.

McCarthy, making his Texas debut, allowed five runs -- three earned -- and 10 hits in six innings. He spent most of his last year, his first full season in the majors, as a reliever with the Chicago White Sox and went 4-7 with a 4.68 ERA in two starts and 51 relief appearances.

Matthews led off the bottom of the first with a single, advanced on a wild pitch and took third when Young made an error on Orlando Cabrera's liner.

Guerrero followed with his third consecutive first-inning RBI single, Anderson doubled off the wall in right, Kotchman hit an RBI groundout and Maicer Izturis had a sacrifice fly.

Texas scored its first two runs in the third on Gerald Laird's sacrifice fly and Young's RBI single.

Notes

  • Texas OF/DH Sammy Sosa had Wednesday off. The 38-year-old Sosa, coming back after sitting out the 2006 season, went 1-for-7 and struck out three times in the opening two games.
  • Guerrero was the DH instead of in his usual spot in right field, with Scioscia saying he intended to use some of the veteran players in the DH role when the team plays a day game after a night contest. Reggie Willits started in right.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Ervin Santana allows just two runs on four hits, while striking out six over seven innings.  (AP)
Ervin Santana allows just two runs on four hits, while striking out six over seven innings. (AP)

Players of the Game
Anaheim

E. Santana
IP 7.0
H 4
ER 2
BB 1
K 6
Texas

M. Young
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
 

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Texas Rangers
Kenny Lofton, CF4000002 .182
Frank Catalanotto, DH3000121 .000
Michael Young, SS4121000 .154
Mark Teixeira, 1B4000023 .111
Hank Blalock, 3B4010010 .273
Ian Kinsler, 2B3000100 .222
Brad Wilkerson, LF3111010 .167
Nelson Cruz, RF4110032 .125
Gerald Laird, C2011000 .200
Totals3136329  
Batting
2B - Brad Wilkerson (1, Santana)
SF - Brad Wilkerson (1), Gerald Laird (1)
RBI - Michael Young (1), Brad Wilkerson (1), Gerald Laird (1)
2-OUT RBI - Michael Young (1)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Kenny Lofton 1
DP - Lofton-Teixeira, Young-Kinsler-Teixeira
E - Michael Young (1, Misplayed grounder)
Texas Rangers
Brandon McCarthy (L,0-1) 61053100 4.50
Kameron Loe 1000000 0.00
Joaquin Benoit 0.2100010 0.00
Akinori Otsuka 0.1000010 0.00
HBP - Kendrick (by Brandon McCarthy)
WP - Brandon McCarthy (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Brandon McCarthy 79-56, Kameron Loe 15-8, Joaquin Benoit 14-8, Akinori Otsuka 7-4
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brandon McCarthy 8-9, Kameron Loe 2-1
Batters Faced - Brandon McCarthy 29, Kameron Loe 3, Joaquin Benoit 3, Akinori Otsuka 1
Los Angeles Angels
Gary Matthews Jr., CF4120001 .500
Orlando Cabrera, SS4100001 .231
Vladimir Guerrero, DH4111000 .545
Garret Anderson, LF4221000 .231
Casey Kotchman, 1B4021000 .556
Howie Kendrick, 2B3011010 .273
Maicer Izturis, 3B3011004 .300
Jose Molina, C4010004 .250
Reggie Willits, RF3010111 .333
Totals33511512  
Batting
2B - Garret Anderson (2, McCarthy), Casey Kotchman (1, McCarthy)
SF - Maicer Izturis (1)
RBI - Vladimir Guerrero (5), Garret Anderson (1), Casey Kotchman (3), Howie Kendrick (2), Maicer Izturis (2)
SB - Howie Kendrick (1, 2nd base off McCarthy/Laird), Maicer Izturis (2, 2nd base off Otsuka/Laird)
CS - Gary Matthews Jr. (1, 2nd base by McCarthy/Laird)
Team LOB - 7
Los Angeles Angels
Ervin Santana (W,1-0) 7422160 2.57
Hector Carrasco (H,1) 1000010 0.00
Francisco Rodriguez (S,2) 1211120 4.50
Pitches-Strikes - Ervin Santana 107-66, Hector Carrasco 7-6, Francisco Rodriguez 27-16
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ervin Santana 8-7, Hector Carrasco 1-1
Batters Faced - Ervin Santana 26, Hector Carrasco 3, Francisco Rodriguez 6
Game Information
Attendance - 35701
Game Time - 2:26
Temperature - 70
Umpires - Home - Brian O'Nora, First Base - Phil Cuzzi, Second Base - Jerry Crawford, Third Base - Bill Hohn