Angels 8, Rangers 2

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Vladimir Guerrero is hitting the ball hard and proving himself as the MVP of the Anaheim Angels in his first real pennant chase.

Guerrero homered twice and drove in five runs while going 4-for-5 Tuesday night to lead the Angels to an 8-2 win over the Texas Rangers. The fourth straight win got Anaheim back into first place.

Anaheim (89-68) returned to top of the AL West in a tie with Oakland for the first time since June 8 after the Athletics lost 7-4 later Tuesday night to Seattle. The Rangers (86-71) are three games back with five to play.

“This thing can change momentum in a heartbeat. There’s no reason to put too much stock in where we are,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “The challenge is in front of us, and the opportunity is in front of us also.”

The Angels never trailed Texas after Guerrero’s two-out solo homer in the first. It was 8-0 after his 36th homer, a three-run shot in the sixth.

“I’m not trying to win the MVP. I’m trying to play every day to win a championship,” Guerrero said.

“Right now, obviously his stroke of driving the ball is re-emerging, and that’s great to see. It’s a great time to see it,” Scioscia said. “He’s been about as consistent as any player I’ve seen from start to finish.”

Guerrero also had a homer and a double in the Angels’ 5-3 win on Monday night to start the series at Texas.

“I don’t think he has much of an approach at the plate. He just goes out there and swings,” said Angels starter Kelvin Escobar, the beneficiary Tuesday. “I don’t think you can do much against him. You can make him look stupid on one pitch, and he’ll hit it out of the park on the next pitch.”

Escobar (11-12) allowed just two runs on three hits over six innings to win for the first time in four starts against Texas this season. He struck out three and walked one.

Garret Anderson and Dallas McPherson also homered for the Angels, who have two games left in Texas before a season-ending three-game series in Oakland.

Texas, the surprise contender after four straight last-place finishes, has lost four of five since sweeping three games from the Athletics last week.

“The chances are remote, but we still have a chance,” shortstop Michael Young said.

“We’re not going to give in. It’s late in the season, and we’re still grinding,” manager Buck Showalter said. “In a couple of days, we all might be surprised as to what’s happened.”

Guerrero, hitting .333 in his first Anaheim season after spending his first seven seasons in Montreal, has 121 RBIs and 120 runs. Don Baylor is the only other Angel with 120 RBIs and 120 runs—in 1979, when he drove in 139 runs and scored 120 as the AL MVP.

The Angels led 1-0 after Guerrero homered in the first off Chan Ho Park (3-7). After Troy Glaus drew a two-out walk in the third, Guerrero drove him home with a double.

Guerrero had a two-out single in the fifth and scored on Anderson’s 14th homer.

McPherson led off the sixth against John Wasdin with his third homer—the only Angels run not scored with two outs. Guerrero homered again after Chone Figgins singled and Darin Erstad walked.

“He’s got about as big a happy zone as I’ve seen on a player,” Scioscia said. “The home runs are starting to re-emerge. Although we’re built around more than waiting for Vladie to hit home runs, when it happens, it’s important.”

It was the third multihomer game this season for Guerrero, and 22nd in his career. His night at the plate ended with an eighth-inning flyout.

Park, 0-3 with a 6.55 in six September starts, gave up four runs on six hits over 4 2-3 innings. He walked four.

“Chan Ho wasn’t sharp enough to be facing a team like this,” Showalter said.

Escobar was pitching on three days’ rest for the third time in his career. He had allowed nine earned runs in just 5 1-3 innings combined the first two times, but had the Rangers mostly befuddled after a leadoff walk.

After Kevin Mench’s two-out single in the second, Escobar retired 10 straight through the fifth.

Gerald Laird hit Escobar’s first pitch in the sixth for his first homer. Eric Young followed with a double and scored on Michael Young’s groundout.


Park has allowed 22 homers in 88 2-3 innings, and Wasdin has given up 18 homers in 61 1-3 innings. … Angels LF Jeff DaVanon snapped an 0-for-18 slump with an infield single to start the seventh. … Anaheim is 25-11 its last 36 road games. … Rangers LF David Dellucci left with a strained left groin. 1B Mark Teixeira fouled a ball off his right kneecap in the ninth and was limping noticeably.

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