Angels blow three-run lead, fall to Rangers

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Angel Stadium
fans already boo A.J. Pierzynski every time he comes to the plate. The
Texas catcher figured he might as well give them another good reason.

Pierzynski hit a tiebreaking homer with
two outs in the ninth inning, and the Rangers rallied from a late
three-run deficit for a 7-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday
night.

Shortly after Adrian Beltre’s drive fell
inches short of the fence in the ninth, Pierzynski hit his fourth homer
of the season to right off Angels closer Ernesto Frieri (0-1), capping
an offense-dominated meeting between AL West rivals on three-game
winning streaks.

“When I hit mine, I was afraid it wasn’t going to go out, either,” Pierzynski said. “Luckily it went just far enough.”

Mitch Moreland had three hits and drove
in a run for the Rangers, who also got three hits from Elvis Andrus in
their fourth consecutive victory.

The Angels had a 6-3 lead after the
sixth inning, but Texas tied it with three runs in the seventh —
including an RBI single from Pierzynski right after he fouled a ball off
his right kneecap.

Pierzynski is reviled in both of
California’s AL ballparks largely for his postseason exploits against
the Angels and the Oakland Athletics over the years. The boos don’t
bother the 36-year-old veteran at all.

“I actually love it,” he said. “It’s an
awesome atmosphere. This is one of my favorite ballparks. This is where
I played my first big league game, so this is a special place to me.”

Tanner Scheppers (2-0) pitched two
innings of one-hit relief for the Rangers, and Joe Nathan worked the
ninth for his sixth save.

Chris Iannetta doubled in the go-ahead
run and Luis Jimenez got his first career RBIs on a two-run single
during that sixth-inning rally for the Angels, who couldn’t overcome
Texas’ 15 hits.

“We just kept fighting,” Rangers
manager Ron Washington said. “We had to scratch out some runs there at
the end, but I felt like we had a chance all night. … That’s what A.J.
is all about. He’s an exciting player. I love him. A lot of people hate
him, but I love him.”

Josh Hamilton had four hits against his
former team after getting bumped out of the cleanup spot, and Howie
Kendrick had a two-run double for the Angels in the series opener. Los
Angeles beat defending AL champion Detroit three times by a combined
22-4, while the Rangers won three straight over Seattle during their
only home series in a 19-day span.

Frieri has been a dependable reliever
since joining the Angels last season, but his power pitching wasn’t
enough to get past the Rangers’ veterans in the ninth.

“They were all swinging because they
know that I use my fastball and I keep doing it,” Frieri said. “If I
pitch tomorrow, I’m going to go out there with my best stuff. If I’m
going to get beat, I’m going to get beat like that — using my best
stuff. I’m not a breaking ball guy.”

Albert Pujols was 0 for 5 for the
Angels, while Mike Trout went 0 for 4 with a walk and failed to make a
potential run-saving catch at the wall in the sixth inning. Mark Trumbo
also went 0 for 4 with a walk as the Angels’ cleanup hitter, striking
out to end the game.

But Hamilton went 4 for 4 after getting
dropped to the No. 5 spot in the lineup for the first time in his debut
season with the Angels, who gave him $125 million to leave Texas last
winter. Mired in a 1-for-21 slump, Hamilton moved down and immediately
had his 16th career four-hit game — his first with the Angels.

“I didn’t feel any different tonight
than I have in the last three weeks,” Hamilton said. “I just got four
hits. I’d much rather win a ballgame and get no hits. Sometimes Wash
would move me to the five hole. I don’t know what it is about the five
hole, but it seemed to work.”

Derek Holland yielded six hits and six
runs for Texas, walking four while pitching into the sixth inning in his
rockiest start of a strong season.

Joe Blanton allowed 12 hits while
pitching into the seventh for the Angels, leaving with a three-run lead
before his bullpen wasted it. The veteran right-hander has struggled
mightily in his first month with Los Angeles, starting 0-3.

Iannetta delivered a two-out RBI double
to left in the sixth, chasing Holland. Jimenez followed with his
two-run single off Jason Frasor for the rookie third baseman’s first
career RBIs.

But the Rangers’ first six hitters all
reached base in the seventh against four Angels pitchers. Pinch-hitter
Jeff Baker tied it when Scott Downs dropped his high chopper in front of
the plate.

NOTES:
Opponents have walked Pujols five times this season to get to Hamilton,
including twice on Sunday. Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said
Hamilton’s move to the fifth spot is likely a lefty-righty platoon with
Trumbo for now, after Hamilton went 1 for 19 in the first three weeks
against left-handers. … The Angels put RHP Tommy Hanson on the
bereavement list. He’s likely to miss his scheduled start Wednesday
against Texas, and RHP Jerome Williams is likely to replace him.