Angels 2, Rangers 0

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Bartolo Colon’s aggressive pitching took all the fight out of the Texas Rangers.

Colon combined with two relievers on a one-hitter, and the Anaheim Angels beat the AL West leaders 2-0 Tuesday night after the teams scuffled during batting practice.

The right-hander pitched seven dominant innings to win his fourth consecutive start. Texas’ only hit was a clean, ground single through the left side by Michael Young on a 3-1 pitch with two outs in the third.

“I absolutely think this was my best outing of the year,” Colon said. “I feel like I’m taking some positive steps toward having a strong finish for this ballclub, but I also know there are a lot of starts ahead of me, so I have to keep working hard. I’m glad I’m contributing and giving some innings to the team.”

Before the game, a fight broke out between Angels second baseman Adam Kennedy and Rangers catcher Gerald Laird, a carry-over from their dispute the night before.

Laird thought Kennedy intentionally tried to get hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the second inning of Texas’ 6-1 victory Monday night, and said something to Kennedy when he came up again in the fifth.

Kennedy was standing behind the batting cage Tuesday and was approached by Laird as the Angels were concluding BP and the Rangers were finishing their pregame stretching. Moments later, the two were in a tussle that spilled over to the warning track between home plate and the first base dugout.

Soon every player from each team was involved, with players pushing, shoving and grabbing each other before order was restored approximately four minutes later.

“He kind of saw that I was making eye contact at him, and I expected a different response and a more cordial conversation than I got,” Kennedy said. “It was a little misunderstanding that probably got a little out of control.

“Everything happened kind of fast, but there were no punches thrown by anybody. Nothing too serious came out of it and nobody was hurt. I don’t know what’s on his agenda, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s over.”

Laird had little to say before or after the game.

“He tried to forearm, sucker-punch me,” Laird said.

The skirmish nearly overshadowed Colon’s best outing since joining the Angels last December as a free agent.

“What he did tonight against that team is pretty special,” Kennedy said. “He doesn’t have to pitch like that every time for us to win, but tonight he did and it was fun to play behind him. He has the ability to put it all together and dominate a game.”

Colon (9-8) got all eight of his strikeouts in the first 3 1-3 innings, cutting Texas’ AL West lead to 1 1/2 games over Oakland and four over the third-place Angels. He lost six of seven decisions before this winning streak— during which his ERA is 1.67.

“We’ve never really faced him when he’s struggled, so that’s the pitcher that I know,” Young said. “I never saw him pitch any other way than the way he pitched tonight against us. He threw a ton of strikes. Those are the kind of games everybody knows he’s capable of.”

Colon walked two and came out after 95 pitches because of back stiffness. Francisco Rodriguez pitched a perfect eighth, and Troy Percival got three straight outs for his 299th career save and 16th in 20 attempts this season.

The one-hitter was the first by the Angels since May 26, 1989, when Chuck Finley beat Boston 5-0 at Fenway Park. The last team to throw a one-hitter against the Rangers was Oakland, beating them 10-0 behind Cory Lidle’s complete game on July 19, 2002, at Oakland.

Texas right-hander Nick Regilio, making his first major league start, allowed two runs and five hits in five innings. Regilio took over in the rotation for Ricardo Rodriguez, whose season ended last Thursday when a line drive by Anaheim’s Robb Quinlan broke his elbow.

Vladimir Guerrero, back in the Angels’ lineup after missing three games with a bruised right hand, singled with two outs in the fourth and came all the way around with the first run on Jose Guillen’s double off the wall in right-center. Quinlan added an RBI single after an intentional walk to Darin Erstad.

The inning ended with center fielder Laynce Nix making a fully extended, backhanded, diving grab of Jose Molina’s drive just in front of the warning track. The catch was so sensational, Nix received a standing ovation from the crowd of 42,625—most of whom were decked out in Angels red.

Notes

Texas RF Gary Matthews Jr. charged Tim Salmon’s two-out single in the fifth and erased Chone Figgins at third as he tried to advance two bases. Figgins returned the favor in the sixth with a diving grab of Rod Barajas’ sinking liner to center field.

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