Los Angeles (79-68) earned a 2-1 win in the series opener Thursday thanks to stellar work from its relievers. After starter Kelvim Escobar exited with a sore left knee, Hector Carrasco, Scot Shields and Francisco Rodriguez limited Texas (74-73) three hits with three walks over the final five innings.
Los Angeles’ bullpen has a 1.59 ERA over its last 14 games and Angels relievers are 10-0 since Aug. 3. Rodriguez has a scoreless streak of 30 2-3 innings since June 26, converting 23 of 24 save opportunities.
With the win, Los Angeles moved within five games of idle Oakland for the AL West lead. The A’s and Angels meet in seven of the final 10 games this season.
Despite the win, the lack of offense remains a concern. Los Angeles has scored just 13 runs while splitting its last six games.
Orlando Cabrera is 6-for-25 and Juan Rivera is 5-for-24 in that span for Los Angeles. In addition, slugger Vladimir Guerrero has just one homer in his last 27 games. Guerrero went 0-for-4 Thursday—the first time he failed to hit safely in 25 career games at Ameriquest Field.
“The bottom line is we need to start scoring runs,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We are not going to be able to keep tapping into the resources of (the bullpen). … There’s a lot riding game to game and we’re going to need our bullpen intact if we’re going to make the run we hope to.”
Angels rookie starter Jered Weaver (11-2, 2.30 ERA) goes for his third straight September win. He scattered six hits, walked one and struck out five on Sept. 4 in a win over Baltimore.
The right-hander followed with a 4-3 win over Toronto on Sunday, but gave up three runs, six hits, walked three and struck out eight including Troy Glaus with the bases loaded in the fifth to escape the jam.
“I came up with a big pitch with the bases loaded,” Weaver said. “Obviously, with a guy like that at the plate, you’re trying to locate and make a perfect pitch—and it ended up being one.”
Weaver is 6-1 with a 3.05 ERA in nine road starts as he gets set to make his first appearance at Ameriquest Field. He didn’t receive a decision after giving up three runs and eight hits over six innings in a 7-6, 12-inning home loss on Aug. 3.
Texas will send a resurgent Robinson Tejeda (4-3, 5.22) to the mound. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.35 ERA over his last five outings.
He allowed two runs and four hits over 6 2-3 innings in a 3-2, 13-inning loss at Seattle on Saturday. He’s issued only 10 walks during his unbeaten stretch after walking 17 over his first five outings.
“He’s been a lot more in command in his last two starts,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said.
Tejeda is facing the Angels for the second time after surrendering five runs over 3 1-3 innings in an 8-5 loss on May 24.
Thursday’s meeting also was the first since Aug. 16, when there were three hit batters, a bench-clearing brawl and four ejections at the end of a contentious series between the AL West rivals. Both managers, a coach and five players received suspensions totaling 31 games.
Rangers leadoff hitter Gary Matthews Jr., who hit for the cycle Wednesday in Detroit, was hit by a pitch in the first inning Thursday night by Escobar. No other incidents followed.