Rangers win battle of AL West rivals
C.J. Wilson is starting to feel like himself again. So are the top two hitters in the Texas Rangers' lineup.
Wilson struck out nine in seven strong innings while Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus both snapped out of extended slumps as the Rangers returned home with a 7-1 victory over the AL West rival Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.
''He made pitches when he had to, kept them off balance,'' manager Ron Washington said about Wilson, before really breaking out a smile when asked about the duo at the top of the batting order.
''They're pretty good players. We love them when they're doing well. We have to stick with them when things aren't going right,'' he added. ''It's only April. In two or three days, those numbers you see can change pretty drastically.''
Kinsler, who entered hitting .170, snapped an 0-for-18 slide with a pair of extra-base hits before scoring on a suicide squeeze by Andrus, who was hitting. 176 and in a 4-for-39 slide before his three hits.
''It was definitely a good night,'' Kinsler said.
Adrian Beltre homered for the second straight night and Mitch Moreland drove in three runs for the Rangers, who were back from a nine-game road trip after losing four of five. They have started a season with seven consecutive home victories for the first time.
The Angels had won five in a row with some solid pitching performances to enter the three-game series tied with Texas atop the division at 10-5. Then Ervin Santana (0-2) ran into a little bit of trouble.
Moreland's two-out, two-run single in the fourth put the Rangers ahead to stay. Texas added four runs in the fifth, including Beltre's three-run homer to straightaway center.
Kinsler started the fifth with a triple into the left-field corner that ricocheted past Vernon Wells. Andrus then bunted with Kinsler charging home and was credited with a single when Santana threw late and high to first base.
''I kind of slowed down a little bit heading into second base, saw he was having trouble with the ball and I was able to pick it back up and get into third base,'' Kinsler said. ''Elvis is such a good bunter, he does such a good job getting the bat on the ball somehow. It makes Wash very confident to be able to put that play on and it worked well.''
Michael Young followed with a single before Beltre's fifth home run of the season chased Santana.
''It was a slider and he dug down and got it,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ''It wasn't that bad a pitch.''
Angels pitchers allowed only 10 runs during the five-game winning streak, a span when the starters had a 1.98 ERA.
Santana struck out three and walked two while giving up 10 hits in four-plus innings. He is 11-8 in 22 career starts against the Rangers, his most against any team.
''I don't think overall he was locked in, but he wasn't far off,'' Scioscia said. ''Those guys beat us today. We didn't execute some things on the mound and at the plate, but we're not that far off.''
Wilson (2-0) was already over 100 pitches when he gave up three consecutive two-out singles in the seventh, the last to Howie Kendrick for the Angels' only run. The crafty left-hander got a rousing ovation from the crowd when walking to the dugout after he got Bobby Abreu on an inning-ending flyball.
Wilson scattered nine hits. His only walk was to Abreu in the first before Torii Hunter grounded into a double play.
''I felt a little bit more myself. I still don't feel like I'm all the way back to where I want to be yet,'' Wilson said. ''I ended up throwing a ton of pitches. ... I was getting ahead of a lot of guys, but not able to put away everybody.''
NOTES: Beltre has four homers in his nine-game hitting streak. He also had his fourth game this season with at least three RBIs. ... Kinsler got his first hit in a week with a two-out double in the third. He was thrown out trying to score on a single by Andrus. ... Hunter was in a 2-for-30 slide before a bloop single in the eighth that popped out of the glove of a leaping Kinsler at 2B. ... Rangers C Mike Napoli, who had been in the Angels' organization the past 11 years since they drafted him in 2000, played his first game against them. He was 1 for 3 with a bloop double on a checked swing. ... Angels INF Erick Aybar, out since April 3 because of a left oblique strain, is expected to rejoin the team for the series finale Wednesday.