Angels 9, Rangers 5

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—When Vladimir Guerrero tweaked his left knee trying to avoid getting hit by Troy Glaus’ RBI single in the third inning, the Anaheim Angels thought he might have to leave the game.

The Angels’ MVP candidate had other plans, and homered in two of his next three at-bats.

Glaus and Jose Guillen also went deep, and the Angels moved within a game of first place in the AL West with a 9-5 victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday night.

“I told the manager, `I’m not coming out of the game.’ It never went through my mind,” Guerrero said through a translator. “I felt good enough to continue to play. There was never a question of me coming out.”

Bartolo Colon (16-11) had identical thoughts about himself, after giving up a solo homer to Hank Blalock and a two-run shot to Mark Teixeira in the first inning. The right-hander didn’t allow a hit after that, retiring 20 of his last 22 batters and striking out the side in the second and fourth innings.

“The main thing about Bart was that he was able to put that first inning behind him quickly,” Guerrero said. “Another key was letting him know, from our side, that there were still a lot of innings left for us to catch up.”

The victory was Colon’s 11th in 14 starts and third straight. He allowed three runs and three hits in seven innings and struck out seven as the Angels capitalized on Oakland’s loss at Seattle.

It was the first time the Anaheim has gained ground on Oakland since Sept. 10. The Angels haven’t been more than four games off the pace since July 26— but haven’t been able to catch Oakland during that span.

“It seems like every time we won, they won—and every time they lost, we lost,” Guerrero said.

Before the game, the Rangers learned that relievers Frank Francisco, Doug Brocail and Carlos Almanzar were suspended and fined by the commissioner’s office for their role in Monday’s bullpen brawl with fans in Oakland. All three right-handers appealed their suspensions and were available to pitch.

“It’s obvious that there was going to be discipline, and major league baseball made its call,” general manager John Hart said. “I know that they put in their time and did their investigations. And as a club, we’re going to have to live with it.”

Francisco was suspended for the rest of the season—a minimum of 16 games— following his arrest for throwing a chair that hit a woman and broke her nose. Brocail received a seven-game ban and Almanzar got five games. Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo also received a five-game suspension.

In addition, the Rangers played without All-Star MVP Alfonso Soriano, who missed his second game of the season after straining his left hamstring stealing third base in Thursday night’s 5-4 loss at Oakland. As a result, the Rangers remained five games behind the A’s.

“It’s a shame,” Texas reliever Jeff Nelson said. “I mean, the Rangers haven’t been in a pennant race since ’99. And for something like this to happen, as hard as the coaching staff and the players have worked to get we are today, it’s just the wrong time.

“Not that that dampens any of our chances, but at the end of our year, that’s going to be looked upon more than maybe what kind of year the team has had.”

Francisco allowed Guerrero’s second homer of the game—his 32nd—in the eighth.

“I don’t feel good about it, but whatever they say, I have to take it,” Francisco said before the game. “I don’t have no more comment. I really don’t want to talk about it.”

Guerrero’s first home run broke a 3-3 tie leading off the fifth inning against Chan Ho Park (3-6). Two batters later, Glaus drove a 1-2 pitch into the left-field bullpen for his 15th homer. The 2002 World Series MVP is 13-for-60 with four homers and six RBIs since returning from shoulder surgery.

Park allowed five runs and nine hits in five innings. The right-hander, sidelined 14 weeks because of a sore lower back, is 2-3 with a 6.14 ERA in five starts since coming off the disabled list Aug. 26.

The Angels padded their lead to 8-3 against R.A. Dickey. Jeff DaVanon had an RBI single in the sixth, Guillen led off the seventh with his 27th homer and Chone Figgins hit an RBI double four batters later.

The Angels tied it at 3 in the third on two-out RBI singles by Glaus and Adam Kennedy.

Notes

Francisco was booed by the sellout crowd of 43,343 when his name was announced. … Soriano had an MRI on Friday and will be examined Sunday by Angels team physician Dr. Lewis Yocum. … Blalock’s 31st homer ended a string of 22 consecutive scoreless innings by the Rangers against Anaheim pitching. … Angels CF Garret Anderson, originally penciled in as the DH, did not play because of a sore knee.

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