Rangers 2, Angels 0

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—On a day when reliever Frank Francisco began his suspension for throwing a chair into the stands in Oakland, the Texas Rangers needed a parade out of the bullpen to shut down the Anaheim Angels.

Seven Texas pitchers held the powerful Angels to a meager five hits in a 2-0 victory Saturday.

Even the starter came from the bullpen. Joaquin Benoit made an emergency start when rookie Juan Dominguez couldn’t go because of a sore right knee and a stomach virus.

The loss dropped the Angels two games behind AL West-leading Oakland, a 7-4 winner at Seattle. Texas remained five games back of the Athletics.

As it turned out, the Rangers needed a dominant performance by their pitchers. Kelvim Escobar gave up only one run on three hits in eight innings of still another hard-luck start by the Angels’ right-hander.

“We were really fortunate to be in September when we had some extra arms,” Texas manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s probably one of our best wins of the year, when you consider all of the factors working against us.”

Benoit pitched two-hit ball in four-plus innings, then six relievers gave up three hits the rest of the way.

Rod Barajas drove in the Rangers’ first run with an RBI single off Escobar (10-11) in the third inning. Pinch-hitter Gary Matthews Jr. added an RBI single off Scot Shields in the ninth.

The shutout was the Rangers’ seventh of the year. It was the ninth time Anaheim has been blanked—five of those when Escobar pitched.

The Angels have averaged 3.73 runs in Escobar’s 30 starts, nearly two runs a game less than when he doesn’t pitch. He has a 3.75 ERA.

“It’s incredible,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s been pitching so well. If we were scoring runs behind him, he’d been in the Cy Young contention.

“Today, it took seven guys to match what he did.”

Escobar had seven strikeouts and walked two.

Benoit, who didn’t have much time to prepare for his 14th start of the season, struck out six and walked three.

“We might try that again,” Showalter joked. “Orel (pitching coach Orel Hershiser) and I were trying to decide how much short notice we were going to give him.

“We gave him about an hour and a half. I asked Orel what his response was and Orel said he just kind of laughed before Orel told him, `I’m serious.”’

Erasmo Ramirez (5-3) pitched a hitless fifth to get the win, and Francisco Cordero pitched two innings for his 45th save in 49 chances.

Brian Shouse, the fourth reliever used by the Rangers in the seventh inning, came on to face Darin Erstad after the Angels loaded the bases with a pair of singles and walk, all against Doug Brocail with two outs.

Shouse got Erstad on a grounder to second to end the threat.

Brocail, himself facing a seven-game suspension for his part in the melee at Oakland, said the Rangers will miss Francisco.

Francisco will sit out the final 15 games of the regular season and opening day next season if his appeal isn’t upheld.

“Frankie’s awesome, and he’s done the job all year. We can all pitch better and pick up the pace and get the job done. But when you lose an arm like that, who’s one of the best arms in baseball and a big part of the bullpen, we can’t replace that,” Brocail said.

Benoit was making his third appearance after coming off the disabled list with a right rotator cuff problem. He is 3-5 as a starter.

Notes

Dominguez is day-to-day. … Angels DH Tim Salmon underwent surgery Saturday to replace cartilage in his left knee. Salmon, 36, will have surgery on his left shoulder this winter and isn’t expected to be fully recovered by spring training. … The crowd of 41,233 ran the Angels’ season total to a franchise-record 3,087,026. The previous high was 3,061,094 last year, the first time the club had topped the 3-million mark.

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