Blalock lifts Rangers over Angels with homer
Starting for the first time in nearly two weeks, Hank Blalock gave his scuffling offense a much-needed spark.
Blalock hit the go-ahead home run, Scott Feldman picked up his 17th victory and the Rangers kept their slim playoff hopes alive, beating the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 Saturday night.
The Rangers had been shutout in four of their previous five games, the first time in club history that happened.
Manager Ron Washington said before the game his lineup needed a veteran presence, so he gave Blalock his first start since Sept. 6 in hopes of jump starting the unit.
Blalock took advantage of the rare playing time. He lined a 2-1 pitch from Weaver into the grassy area just beyond the wall in center, putting the Rangers ahead 3-2 in the sixth.
"The baseball gods blessed us by Hank hitting a home run," Washington said. "I'm glad he came through. That's what he's capable of doing."
Texas ended a 25-inning scoreless drought with a run in the third, three shy of the club record set in 1972. Texas had scored once in 48 innings before that run.
"The streak we've been on, not scoring runs, has been really hard on us," Blalock said. "We've got to stay positive and grind through it."
The Rangers, who snapped a five-game losing streak, moved within 6 1/2 games of the division-leading Angels in the AL West. Texas remained seven games behind Boston in the wild-card chase after the Red Sox beat Baltimore on Saturday night.
Texas and Los Angeles have five games remaining against each other, including a four-game set in the final week of the season.
If the Angels (88-60) go 7-7 the rest of the way, the Rangers (81-66) would still have to win 14 of their final 15 just to force a tie.
"It was as much of a must-win game as we've had all year," Blalock said. "We really had our backs against the wall so it was nice to get that win."
Blalock almost went from hero to goat as his fielding error contributed to Los Angeles loading the bases with one out in the ninth.
Closer Frank Francisco fell behind Howie Kendrick 3-0 in the count. He followed with two called strikes before the Angels second baseman grounded into a double play to give Francisco his 23rd save in 26 chances.
"The pitch jammed (Kendrick) a bit," Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. "They got the ground ball they needed there."
Feldman (17-5) allowed two runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings to tie for the AL lead in victories with CC Sabathia, who pitched Saturday night for the New York Yankees against the Seattle Mariners.
Los Angeles starter Jered Weaver (15-7) gave up three runs and five hits in six innings, including Blalock's 24th home run.
"Blalock put good wood on a change up and it hurt us," Weaver said.
The Rangers got their first run when Nelson Cruz walked, stole second and Chris Davis hit a slow roller toward shortstop.
Maicer Izturis charged the ball, but it rolled under his bare hand and a few feet past the infield dirt. Cruz scored and Davis made it to second for a double, breaking an 0 for 27 funk with runners in scoring position and drawing a standing ovation from the fans.
"It was good to have one of those go our way and build some momentum for the rest of the game," Davis said.
Torii Hunter hit a two-out, RBI single that tied it at 1 in the fourth, and Mike Napoli homered in the fifth to put the Angels on top 2-1.
Elvis Andrus singled off of Chone Figgins' glove at third to score Ivan Rodriguez and tie the game at 2.
Rangers 3B Michael Young, who has had only one at-bat since straining his left hamstring Sept. 1, was out of the lineup. Young did not take any swings Saturday after he hit in a simulated game Friday. ... Napoli came into the game in a 3-for-45 slump. ... Texas' scoreless streak was the most since going 25 innings without a run Sept. 1-4, 2004.