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L.A. Angels (80-56)002030002780

Blalock's dramatic grand slam denies Angels, Lackey win

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Hitting a go-ahead grand slam in his first game since May 16 wasn't quite on a par with his homer that won the All-Star game in 2003. But Hank Blalock's teammates celebrated in the dugout as though it were Game 7 of the World Series.

Blalock stunned reliever Scot Shields with a drive into the in the right field seats with one out in the eighth inning, leading the Texas Rangers to an 8-7 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday night.

"When Hank hit that home run, I pretty much felt that we were going to win that game," Rangers closer C.J. Wilson said after his second shaky save in two days. "It was so deflating for them to see Shields come in and just kind of fall apart like that, because he's such a consistent guy."

Shields (3-5) gave up a leadoff single to Michael Young, then walked Brad Wilkerson and hit Frank Catalanotto with a pitch before Blalock connected for his fifth career grand slam and first this season.

Blalock, a two-time All-Star, had been limited to 39 games this season because of a condition called "thoracic outlet syndrome" which affects the nerves that pass through the shoulder into the neck. He had surgery May 21 to remove a rib, which helped alleviate the problem.

"I felt weird up there the first time," Blalock said, "but I think what helped me was that I got to see a lot of my pitches my first couple of times up and see some different stuff."

Technically, Blalock has four home runs in his last five games -- with quite a bit of separation between the last two.

"It was my fourth at-bat, so I was able to get some of the rust out before that," Blalock said. "To be able to contribute like that after not being able to play for 3½ months, that was really exciting for me -- not as exciting as the All-Star home run, but it was a close second. I came into the dugout and everyone was pumped up for me. It was a lot of fun."

Shields retired one batter and was charged with all four runs. Since the All-Star break, the Angels' set-up man has a 10.00 ERA.

"I didn't get the job done," Shields said. "I couldn't throw strikes, I couldn't throw my breaking ball, and that's what I get. The breaking ball was the right pitch to throw to Blalock, but I couldn't afford to get behind 3-2, so I tried to throw some low fastballs and get a double play."

Teammate Garret Anderson doesn't agree that Shields' 317 appearances and 498 2/3 innings pitched since the start of the 2003 season have caught up to him.

"There's no answer to that," Anderson said. "You can't say that kind of stuff. It's a theory. It's not fact. I mean, everybody has their struggles. None of us are immune to tough times on the field. You've just got to be mentally strong, keep moving forward and not worry about what's happened -- because you can't change that."

Given an 8-5 lead to work with in the ninth, Wilson gave up three hits, including an RBI single to Robb Quinlan. With runners on second and third and one out, Reggie Willits lined out to third. Wilson then hit Orlando Cabrera with a pitch to load the bases, and walked Vladimir Guerrero to force in a run.

That brought up Anderson, who hit a three-run homer in the ninth Saturday against Wilson on a fastball. This time, Wilson caught Anderson looking at a 1-2 slider to end the game. The save was his 10th in 11 chances.

"I'm trying to pitch away from his hot zone, and today I was just able to execute a little bit better of a pitch," Wilson said.

Wes Littleton (3-1) pitched two hitless innings, keeping the Angels 6½ games ahead of Seattle in the AL West. The Mariners lost for the ninth straight time.

Angels starter John Lackey was in line for a victory before Shields' implosion. The right-hander, looking for his 17th victory, pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowing two-run homers by Ian Kinsler and Wilkerson. Lackey struck out eight and walking two.

The Angels grabbed a 5-2 lead in the fifth with three runs against rookie Kason Gabbard. Quinlan, starting at first for the first time since Aug. 23 because a left-hander was throwing, sparked the rally with a single that snapped an 0-for-19 drought and kept the inning alive with a hard takeout slide at second base that prevented a double play.

Notes

  • Kinsler went 7-for-10 in the three-game series with four extra-base hits, three walks and four RBI in 15 plate appearances.
  • Juan Rivera was activated from the 60-day disabled list before the game and made his long-awaited season debut in RF, after recovering from a broken left leg he sustained on Dec. 22 while playing winter ball. Rivera went 0-for-3. RHP Greg Jones was designated for assignment to make room for Rivera on the 40-man roster.
 
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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Talk about a return! Hank Blalock wins it with a grand slam in his first game back from injury.  (AP)
Talk about a return! Hank Blalock wins it with a grand slam in his first game back from injury. (AP)

Players of the Game
Texas

H. Blalock
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 4
Anaheim

J. Mathis
AB 3
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
 

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Texas Rangers
Ian Kinsler, 2B4122112 .265
Ramon Vazquez, 3B3000002 .235
Michael Young, SS5230012 .307
Marlon Byrd, CF5000014 .305
Brad Wilkerson, 1B3212110 .237
Nelson Cruz, RF2000020 .213
   a- Frank Catalanotto, PH-LF1100010 .270
    Jerry Hairston Jr., LF0000000 .193
Hank Blalock, DH4124000 .291
Gerald Laird, C3000121 .223
David Murphy, LF-RF3110101 .410
Totals3389849  
a-struck out for Cruz in the 6th
Batting
HR - Ian Kinsler (18, Lackey), Brad Wilkerson (19, Lackey), Hank Blalock (6, Shields)
SH - Ramon Vazquez (8)
RBI - Ian Kinsler 2 (53), Brad Wilkerson 2 (59), Hank Blalock 4 (20)
2-OUT RBI - Brad Wilkerson 2 (15)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Vazquez-Kinsler-Wilkerson, Young-Kinsler-Wilkerson
E - Jerry Hairston Jr. (3, Misplayed grounder)
Texas Rangers
Kason Gabbard 6555531 4.07
Wes Littleton (W,3-1) 2000100 3.25
C.J. Wilson (S,10) 1322120 2.77
IBB - Guerrero by Kason Gabbard
HBP - Cabrera (by C.J. Wilson)
Pitches-Strikes - Kason Gabbard 102-56, Wes Littleton 24-15, C.J. Wilson 35-22
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kason Gabbard 9-4, Wes Littleton 3-2
Batters Faced - Kason Gabbard 26, Wes Littleton 6, C.J. Wilson 8
Los Angeles Angels
Reggie Willits, CF-RF4100102 .292
Orlando Cabrera, SS4121000 .311
Vladimir Guerrero, DH3001201 .327
Garret Anderson, LF5012024 .287
Maicer Izturis, 3B2000212 .276
Howie Kendrick, 2B4110002 .321
Juan Rivera, RF3000011 .000
    Gary Matthews Jr., CF1000011 .259
Robb Quinlan, 1B3221100 .237
Jeff Mathis, C3222101 .227
    Nathan Haynes, PR0000000 .219
Totals3278775  
Batting
2B - Orlando Cabrera (34, Gabbard), Howie Kendrick (18, Wilson), Jeff Mathis (11, Wilson)
HR - Jeff Mathis (3, Gabbard)
RBI - Orlando Cabrera (76), Vladimir Guerrero (110), Garret Anderson 2 (64), Robb Quinlan (20), Jeff Mathis 2 (18)
2-OUT RBI - Orlando Cabrera (27), Vladimir Guerrero (28), Garret Anderson 2 (19)
SB - Orlando Cabrera (18, 2nd base off Gabbard/Laird)
CS - Jeff Mathis (1, 2nd base by Littleton/Laird)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Izturis-Kendrick-Quinlan, Izturis-Kendrick-Quinlan
Los Angeles Angels
John Lackey 6.2644282 3.26
Justin Speier (H,18) 0.1000000 3.46
Scot Shields (BS,5; L,3-5) 0.1244101 3.97
Chris Bootcheck 0.2000110 3.88
Darren Oliver 1100000 4.11
HBP - Vazquez (by John Lackey), Catalanotto (by Scot Shields)
WP - John Lackey (6)
Pitches-Strikes - John Lackey 99-68, Justin Speier 4-2, Scot Shields 21-10, Chris Bootcheck 10-4, Darren Oliver 6-4
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Lackey 6-5, Darren Oliver 1-1
Batters Faced - John Lackey 28, Justin Speier 1, Scot Shields 5, Chris Bootcheck 3, Darren Oliver 3
Game Information
Attendance - 40635
Game Time - 3:04
Temperature - 97
Umpires - Home - Lance Barksdale, First Base - Bill Hohn, Second Base - Jim Reynolds, Third Base - Gary Cederstrom