Nelson Cruz celebrates his two-run home during the seventh inning of the… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)
The decisive moment in Texas’ 7-3 victory over the Angels on Sunday came in the bottom of the seventh inning, when Rangers reliever Alexi Ogando shattered Albert Pujols’ bat with a 100-mph fastball and induced a weak fly ball to left field to snuff out a bases-loaded, two-out threat and preserve a two-run lead.
But another turning point for the Angels came in the top of the seventh inning, when Manager Mike Scioscia stuck with reliever Bobby Cassevah a lot longer than most in an announced crowd of 42,465 at Angel Stadium would have stuck with the right-hander.
Cassevah clearly had nothing after replacing starter Dan Haren to start the sixth inning, giving up a leadoff double to David Murphy and hitting Mike Napoli with a pitch. Both runners advanced on Mitch Moreland’s sacrifice bunt, and Murphy scored on Ian Kinsler’s groundout to shortstop for a 3-1 Texas lead.
Cassevah, making his third appearance since being recalled from triple-A Salt Lake, then walked Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton to load the bases before getting Adrian Beltre to ground into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.
John Hester led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a home run to left off Rangers starter Matt Harrison, the first run batted in by an Angels catcher since Chris Iannetta went on the disabled list on May 10, to cut the Rangers’ lead to 3-2.
But with right-hander David Carpenter warming, left-hander Hisanori Takahashi stirring and right-hander Jason Isringhausen also available, Scioscia left Cassevah in the game to start the seventh inning.
Two batters later, Texas extended its lead to 5-2 when Michael Young singled to left and Nelson Cruz crushed a two-run home run to left-center, a shot the ESPN home run tracker estimated at 484 feet, the longest homer in baseball this season.
Scioscia then replaced Cassevah with Hisanori Takahashi, who retired the next three batters to end the inning.
The Rangers added two insurance runs in the ninth inning on RBI singles by Napoli and Andrus to snap a four-game losing streak and push their American League West lead over the Angels to 4 1/2 games.
The Rangers got to the Angels bullpen early by driving up the pitch count of Haren, who gave up two runs and seven hits, struck out two and walked two in five innings, throwing 104 pitches.
Texas took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Napoli and Moreland singled and Andrus doubled to right-center field for a run. The Rangers made it 2-0 in the fifth inning when Kinsler doubled, took third on Andrus’ bunt and scored on Young’s single to right, a catchable grounder that Pujols was unable to stop with his backhand stab.
Mark Trumbo walked to open the bottom of the fifth inning and scored on Erick Aybar’s double to left, the first hit of the game off Harrison, to pull the Angels to within 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth.
Texas made it 3-1 with its run off Cassevah in the top of the sixth, and Hester’s homer made it 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth, an inning that ended with Torii Hunter flying out to right with runners on second and third.
The Angels right fielder walked in the eighth inning, but he now has three hits in 45 at-bats since May 3, a .067 slump that has dropped his average from .319 to .235.
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