|Texas (72-52) «||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||2||0||4||12||1|
|L.A. Angels (65-59)||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||3||7||2|
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- For 128 pitches, Ervin Santana scrapped, clawed and somehow held off the relentless Texas Rangers. When Ian Kinsler put Santana's 129th pitch softly into left field, the Rangers demonstrated why the Angels just don't appear capable of holding them down this season.
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Kinsler came up with the Angel Stadium crowd on its feet to cheer Santana, who had struck out two Rangers and had two strikes on Kinsler after Texas loaded the bases with no outs. Kinsler broke his bat on Santana's slider, but got the ball over the infield.
"It was loud. The whole stadium knew what was going on," Kinsler said. "That's the most fun part about the whole game. ... I was battling against [Santana] all night. He was battling me with sliders, battling me with the heater. We were getting guys on base, but couldn't beat him. That was our opportunity, and we almost let it slip by. I was just trying to get it in there somewhere."
Whether they're doing it with homers or broken-bat bloops, the defending AL champions have been too much for the struggling Angels this week, taking a commanding seven-game lead in the AL West before Thursday's series finale. Michael Young had his third consecutive three-hit game for the Rangers, who have 43 hits in the series after pounding out 12 more.
Mitch Moreland hit a home run and Josh Hamilton hit a run-scoring single for the Rangers, who have won six straight to open a 10-game road trip. C.J. Wilson (12-5) yielded five hits over seven innings for the Rangers (72-52), who are a season-best 20 games over .500 for the first time since 1999 by seizing control of this key four-game series.
The Rangers again downplayed the significance of this head-to-head matchup against their only remaining competition for the division title, but a little excitement still leaked out.
"The whole game, I'm worked up tonight more than I've ever been worked up so far," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "The whole atmosphere was great. It was just the game, with C.J. and Santana going at it."
Mark Trumbo had an early RBI double and Howie Kendrick homered in the eighth inning for the Angels, who have lost five straight and seven of eight. Los Angeles trailed the Rangers by 1½ games early last week before sliding to the fringe of the playoff race during this disastrous stretch.
"There's nothing deflating about it," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Obviously, the longer it takes to start stringing together a streak and stringing together wins, the tougher it is to accomplish this, but this is doable."
After routing Los Angeles in the first two games of the series, Texas trailed 2-0 in the first inning before coming back against Santana (9-9), who had won five consecutive starts with a no-hitter during a nine-game unbeaten streak.
Texas beat rookie starters for the Angels in the first two games of the series, but was nearly as effective against Santana, who gave up 10 hits and four walks. He had four strikeouts, including the 1,000th of his career in the first inning, but lost for the first time in 10 starts since June 21
"We've still got a more than month to go, so we have to keep playing hard and anything can happen," Santana said. "We just have to play our game. ... I didn't have my best stuff, but it's a good battle."
Wilson pitched six consecutive scoreless innings after a rocky start. After Trumbo's drive to right field in the first inning hit near the top of the elevated fence and bounced back onto the field. Torii Hunter slid safely into home, adeptly touching home plate with his hand to beat the tag.
The Rangers got a runner on base in every inning against Santana, but didn't score until Hamilton drove in Elvis Andrus in the fifth. Moreland then tied it with his 14th homer leading off the sixth.
"There's no doubt that Ervin was pitching with his back against the wall, even though he had a two-run lead," Scioscia said. "Those guys have power all the way through their lineup, and they're going to keep going. After we got those two early runs, they kept putting up zeros and kept pressuring us and got back into the game. We wanted to give Ervin a little bit of a comfort zone, but we weren't able to do that."
|Ian Kinsler's tiebreaking single in the eighth inning helps the Rangers win their third straight against the Angels. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Ian Kinsler, 2B||5||0||1||2||0||0||0||.244|
|Elvis Andrus, SS||3||1||0||0||2||0||2||.275|
|Josh Hamilton, LF||5||0||2||1||0||1||1||.306|
|Michael Young, 3B||5||0||3||0||0||1||3||.342|
|Nelson Cruz, RF||4||1||1||0||1||1||6||.266|
|Mike Napoli, DH||5||1||2||0||0||0||3||.294|
|Mitch Moreland, 1B||3||1||1||1||1||0||1||.277|
|Yorvit Torrealba, C||4||0||1||0||0||1||3||.283|
|Endy Chavez, CF||4||0||1||0||0||1||5||.315|
|2B - Michael Young (36, Williams), Mike Napoli 2 (19, Santana, Santana)|
|HR - Mitch Moreland (14, Santana)|
|RBI - Ian Kinsler 2 (56), Josh Hamilton (68), Mitch Moreland (41)|
|2-OUT RBI - Ian Kinsler 2 (22)|
|SB - Josh Hamilton (7, 2nd base off Santana/Wilson)|
|CS - Endy Chavez (4, 2nd base by Santana/Wilson)|
|Team LOB - 11|
|E - Elvis Andrus (24, Throwing(Play reviewed and stands as called:))|
|C.J. Wilson (W,12-5)||7||5||2||1||1||6||0||3.20|
|Koji Uehara (H,17)||1||1||1||1||0||1||1||1.98|
|Neftali Feliz (S,24)||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||3.23|
|Pitches-Strikes - C.J. Wilson 110-76, Koji Uehara 13-10, Neftali Feliz 11-6|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - C.J. Wilson 8-7, Neftali Feliz 2-1|
|Batters Faced - C.J. Wilson 27, Koji Uehara 4, Neftali Feliz 4|
|Los Angeles Angels|
|Maicer Izturis, DH||4||0||1||0||0||1||0||.272|
|Peter Bourjos, CF||4||1||1||0||0||1||0||.271|
|Howard Kendrick, 2B||4||1||2||2||0||1||0||.293|
|Torii Hunter, RF||4||1||1||0||0||1||1||.257|
|Mark Trumbo, 1B||4||0||2||1||0||2||1||.256|
|Vernon Wells, LF||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.201|
|Alberto Callaspo, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.282|
|Erick Aybar, SS||3||0||0||0||1||0||1||.260|
|Bobby Wilson, C||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.176|
|2B - Mark Trumbo (23, Wilson)|
|3B - Peter Bourjos (9, Wilson)|
|HR - Howard Kendrick (9, Uehara)|
|RBI - Howard Kendrick 2 (38), Mark Trumbo (66)|
|2-OUT RBI - Howard Kendrick (15), Mark Trumbo (22)|
|CS - Maicer Izturis (6, 2nd base by Wilson/Torrealba)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|DP - Aybar-Kendrick-Trumbo, Aybar-Kendrick-Trumbo|
|E - Erick Aybar (8, Throwing), Howard Kendrick (5, Misplayed grounder)|
|Los Angeles Angels|
|Ervin Santana (L,9-9)||7.2||10||4||3||4||4||1||3.12|
|IBB - Moreland by Ervin Santana|
|Pitches-Strikes - Ervin Santana 129-75, Scott Downs 6-4, Jerome Williams 5-3|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ervin Santana 10-9, Scott Downs 1-0, Jerome Williams 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Ervin Santana 37, Scott Downs 2, Jerome Williams 3|
|Attendance - 36581|
|Game Time - 2:52|
|Temperature - 77|
|Umpires - Home - Field Culbreth, First Base - Lance Barksdale, Second Base - Adrian Johnson, Third Base - Ted Barrett|