Angels 7, Rangers 4

Torii Hunter has watched several teams celebrate on the field at

his club’s expense, and he didn’t want to see it happen again this

week. So he did something about it.

Hunter drove in two runs to back Jered Weaver’s solid pitching

and the Los Angeles Angels beat Texas 7-4 on Monday night, keeping

the Rangers’ magic number at six for clinching their first AL West

title since 1999.

”We really don’t want them to clinch on our field and our

turf,” Hunter said.

By winning the series opener, the Angels made sure that won’t

happen. But they need to go no worse than 7-5 the rest of the way

to avoid their second losing record in Mike Scioscia’s 11 years as

manager. The other was 2003, when they went 77-85 one season after

winning the World Series.

”It’s a little frustrating,” Weaver said. ”A lot of us have

never been in this position before. A lot of things haven’t gone

our way. It’s not an excuse, it’s just the way the season’s been

going. What has it been for them – 11 years? So it’s exciting for

them, obviously. We’ve been in that spot before, and all the

pressure’s on them. We’re just going to keep playing and battling

with these guys, because you never know what’s going to

happen.”

As a result of Oakland’s 3-0 win over the Chicago White Sox, the

Rangers lead the Athletics by eight games with 13 to play –

including a four-game road series against the A’s that begins

Thursday night.

”You know you’re on the cusp of accomplishing something,”

Texas manager Ron Washington said. ”I’ve been in the game a long

time and I’ve seen a lot of collapses. So I’m just trying to stay

focused on what’s at hand today and trying to keep those guys on

the field focused on what’s at hand. Whatever’s built up inside of

me, and whatever’s built up inside of them, let’s contain it until

it’s ours.”

Texas entered this three-game set knowing it could eliminate the

Angels from postseason contention by beating them twice. But it

won’t be easy, with Ervin Santana and Dan Haren scheduled to pitch

for the three-time defending AL West champions.

”It wouldn’t add to any satisfaction,” Washington said. ”I’m

not into satisfaction at someone else’s expense. I’m just into

trying to win.”

Weaver (13-11) allowed three runs and nine hits over 6 2-3

innings. Despite his won-lost record, which has been undermined by

a severe lack of run support, the right-hander is having his best

season statistically. He has a 2.99 ERA and 220 strikeouts,

second-most in the majors behind Felix Hernandez (222).

Los Angeles got RBI doubles from Jeff Mathis, Howie Kendrick and

Bobby Abreu in the fourth.

David Murphy tied a career high with five hits in five at-bats

and Chris Davis delivered the first pinch-hit homer of the season

for the Rangers.

”They’ve got a talented team, and everyone up and down their

lineup can hurt you,” Weaver said. ”Their pitching staff has

stepped up and done a tremendous job this year. Pitching in that

heat in Texas, it starts to wear on a lot of those starters a

little bit toward the end of the season. But they’ve stuck it out

and played some really good baseball.”

Fernando Rodney pitched a perfect ninth for his 12th save after

Davis homered in the eighth against Francisco Rodriguez.

Derek Holland (3-4) was charged with four runs, six hits and

three walks over 3 2-3 innings. The 23-year-old left-hander’s

pitching line would have been much worse if center fielder Julio

Borbon hadn’t robbed Juan Rivera of a grand slam in the third

inning with the Angels ahead 1-0 on Brandon Wood’s RBI single.

”Those guys are not going to lay down, Oakland is not going to

lay down and Seattle is not going to lay down. So we’ve got to take

care of business,” Washington said. ”They all play us tough.

Yeah, we’ve got a nice lead, but I’m not comfortable.”

NOTES: Holland is the only pitcher to throw a shutout against

the Angels in Anaheim during the last seven seasons, beating them

7-0 with a three-hitter on Aug. 9, 2009. It remains his only

complete game in 30 big league starts. … Rangers CF and major

league batting leader Josh Hamilton, who had two cortisone shots

last week to help relieve pain from the bruised ribs on his left

side, was examined in Los Angeles by Dr. Robert Watkins. The club

expects to have Hamilton back before the postseason, and Washington

figures the slugger will need 25-30 at-bats to get back to his

.361-hitting groove. ”If we do make the playoffs and he doesn’t

get back until we get there, then he’s just going to have to figure

it out in the playoffs. But that’s hypothetical, because we ain’t

won nothing yet,” Washington said.