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Texas' Vladimir Guerrero puts on a show as Angels lose, 6-4

He hits a grand slam, another homer, a double and single, and shows how fired up he is to face his former team.

June 30, 2010|By Mike DiGiovanna

The pitch came in at 79 mph with a bit of a fade, a changeup from the hand of Angels starter Scott Kazmir. It went out on a line at 98 mph according to the Angel Stadium speed gun and whistled over the center-field wall so quickly it left a vapor trail.

Vladimir Guerrero came to Anaheim for the first time as a Texas Ranger this week and claimed he was not motivated by a desire to show the Angels made a mistake by not re-signing him as a free agent last winter.

"All I have to do," Guerrero said on the eve of a big series against his former team, "is do my job."

Yeah, right.

Guerrero erased a three-run deficit with one mighty swing of the bat in the fourth inning Wednesday night, sending a laser out of the park for his seventh career grand slam to lead the Rangers to a 6-4 victory over the Angels.

And after greeting reliever Sean O'Sullivan with a double to left-center in the fifth, the 35-year-old Guerrero popped up from his slide into second, clapped his hands violently and pumped his fist toward the Texas dugout.

No, he wasn't too fired up to play the Angels.

Just for good measure, Guerrero, who also singled in the second, sent a towering home run over the left-center field wall to lead off the eighth, giving him 18 homers and 68 runs batted in on the season.

Guerrero, who has six hits and eight RBIs in the first two games of the series, is tied with Detroit's Miguel Cabrera for the American League RBI lead. He ranks fifth with a .339 average and is tied for fifth with teammate Josh Hamilton on the AL home run list.

"No doubt, Vlad was swinging it tonight," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We didn't pitch him the way we wanted, and if you make a mistake to him, you pay the price. He's as dangerous as any hitter in the game right now."

Is Guerrero playing with a chip on his shoulder?

"He's mad at a lot of clubs," Scioscia said before stopping himself mid-sentence. "He's obviously at a level we haven't seen in a couple of years, and it goes back to his health."

The Angels probably could have had Guerrero in the heart of their lineup for a seventh season if they were willing to guarantee him a two-year deal, but they didn't want to commit to that kind of contract after injuries limited Guerrero to 100 games in 2009.

"From a personal standpoint, what he did for our organization was tremendous, and you miss having him around," Angels General Manager Tony Reagins said. "From a business standpoint, we made our decision months ago.

"Things don't always work out [to where you can agree on a contract], and they didn't in this case."

Guerrero claimed he wasn't seeking revenge against his former team.

"I try to do a good job and I'm hitting the ball well," Guerrero said. "I played here for six years, and now as a visitor things are going well for me."

Things went well for the Angels early Wednesday, as Erick Aybar hit a solo homer in the first and Reggie Willits hit a two-run single in the second for a 3-0 lead.

But Kazmir hit Elvis Andrus with a pitch to start the fourth. Michael Young doubled, and Ian Kinsler walked to load the bases.

Guerrero then crushed his 17th homer, a liner that center fielder Torii Hunter turned his back on to play off the wall only a split-second after it left the bat, and the Rangers led, 4-3.

Kinsler's RBI single in the fifth made it 5-3. The Angels scored in the sixth, as Bobby Wilson doubled, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Aybar's groundout.

Andrus, the Texas shortstop, made two superb plays in the seventh, ranging far to his left for Hideki Matsui's grounder, making a back-hand diving stop of Mike Napoli's one-hop smash and throwing both runners out.

Frank Francisco threw a scoreless eighth, and Neftali Feliz added a scoreless ninth for his league-leading 21st save, as the Rangers won for the 17th time in 20 games and pushed their AL West lead over the Angels to 4 ½ games.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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