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Rangers push Angels a bit further back with 9-5 win

First-place Texas roughs up Jered Weaver and increases lead in American League West to three games.

August 28, 2011|By Kevin Baxter

Reporting from Arlington, Texas -- The Angels and Texas Rangers all but finished their season's work with one another Sunday since they won't meet again until the final three games of the season.

But while the first-place Rangers may be out of sight they made sure they won't be out of mind, rallying for a 9-5 win that not only pushed the Angels three games back in the American League West standings, but gave them something to think about as well.

"This was a big win for us," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "When you leave a series ahead by more games than you started, it's important.

"They gave us their three best guys and we were able to take two of three. We feel really good, but they're not going to go away."

The Angels rolled the dice in the series by starting two of their top three starters on short rest. But Texas beat Dan Haren on Friday, then rallied from a seventh-inning deficit against Jered Weaver and reliever Scott Downs on Sunday.

Weaver, pitching on three days' rest for the first time in his career, looked shaky from the start, giving up two home runs in the first three innings and giving up a season-high eight hits and four walks. But he refused to blame fatigue.

"It wasn't a factor," he said. "I felt great. I just struggled with location."

Even so Weaver began the seventh inning leading on Howie Kendrick's third home run of the series before the Rangers ushered him to the door, tying the score on three consecutive hits.

The Angels replaced the right-hander with Downs, who has stranded 21 of 25 inherited runners this season. That streak lasted less than a pitch with Josh Hamilton lining the left-hander's first offering up the middle to give Texas its first lead, an advantage it padded on Endy Chavez's two-run pinch-hit in the seventh inning and an Elvis Andrus single in the eighth.

But while the Rangers were talking about momentum swings, the Angels were insisting it was only one game in a season that's far from over.

"In baseball," Torii Hunter said "no lead is safe. Including a division lead."

Over the next month, the Rangers and Angels will be chasing each other on the scoreboard, though, since they don't see each other in person until the final week of September. And the paths they'll be following to that last series have a wildly different degree of difficulty, with the Angels enjoying what appears to be the easier route.

Although they'll play 26 games in 28 days before meeting the Rangers again, the six teams the Angels will meet have a combined winning percentage of .467. And just one — the New York Yankees, who visit Anaheim for a three-game series next month — have a winning record.

The Rangers have two fewer games and two more days off than the Angels, but the five teams they'll meet have a .509 winning percentage. And only two, Oakland and Seattle, have losing records.

"It's still in front of us," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "So we have to focus on playing good baseball. We're a better team right now than we've probably been at any point in the season. And hopefully we're going to keep pushing that forward down the stretch.

"We really have it in our control."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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