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Rangers unleash offense, beat Angels, 11-7

Entering a three-game series with Texas, the Angels had won six in a row. But Nelson Cruz and the division-leading Rangers unload to beat the Angels, 11-7.

August 26, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz is congratulated by third base coach Dave Anderson after hitting a three-run home run against the Angels in the sixth inning Friday night.
Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz is congratulated by third base coach… (Jim Cowsert / US Presswire )

Reporting from Arlington, Texas — The Angels had every reason to feel confident coming into this weekend's three-game series in Texas.

Not only had they won a season-high six in a row, trimming five games off Texas' division lead, but they were also running on all cylinders for the first time this summer.

But the Rangers came up with a gear they couldn't match Friday, putting its offense on Cruz control and speeding away to an 11-7 win.

Nelson Cruz, who had four hits in his last seven games, had that many in six innings against the Angels, homering twice and driving in six runs. It was his third six-RBI game of the season — no other major leaguer has done it more than once — while his four hits and three runs scored matched career highs.

More important, however, is the fact that all that offense allowed the Rangers to draw first blood in an important series both teams have gone out of their way to play down.

"It's a loss," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We have to turn the page and look to tomorrow.

"We know what we're up against, and obviously everything's magnified in this series because we're playing the team we're trying to catch."

But catching the Rangers will be a lot more difficult if Dan Haren continues to pitch the way he has lately. Haren (13-6) gave up a season-high seven runs and 11 hits in 41/3 innings Friday, just the third time he's failed to get through five innings this season.

And though the loss was only his second since mid-June, in his last four starts, he's given up 31 hits in 25 innings, raising his ERA to a season-high 3.19.

"There's times in the year where you're rolling and [times] where you hit bumps in the road," he said. "I've kind of been living on the edge the last few games, pitching out of a lot jams.

"But that's baseball. Sometimes ground balls go up the middle, and sometimes they go to the shortstop."

And sometimes they go to the shortstop, and things still go wrong. It was two ground balls that wound up in shortstop Erick Aybar's hands that led to Haren's undoing.

After giving up a two-run double and a 452-foot solo homer to Cruz in the first four innings, Haren was trying to keep the game close in the fifth, when Michael Young led off with an infield single to shortstop. The next batter grounded to second, but Aybar dropped the feed on a potential double-play ball.

Cruz followed with another infield single to load the bases before David Murphy lined a two-strike pitch just inside the foul pole in right for a grand slam, the first Haren has allowed in seven seasons.

"We do have to pitch. We have to make the plays on the defensive side," Scioscia said. "Tonight some things got away from us."

Cruz added a three-run home run off Jerome Williams in the sixth to give the Rangers an 11-0 lead before the Angels rallied to make the final score respectable.

Eleven Angels contributed to the team's 14-hit attack, with Russell Branyan and Howie Kendrick homering. But Scioscia was taking little solace from that.

"There's not many positives you take from a game when you lose," he said.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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