Rangers 6, Angels 3
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—The AL West title is down to a best-of-three series for the Anaheim Angels.
Anaheim’s one-day hold of sole possession of first place in the West ended with a 6-3 loss in Texas on Thursday—and the Oakland Athletics’ win over Seattle a couple of hours later.
The AL West-deciding series begins Friday in Oakland, which won 3-2 Thursday on Bobby Crosby’s homer in the ninth inning.
“We’re still in the thick of a pennant race,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’re starting to think about it. … A lot of things are going in the right direction, so we’re really confident.”
Before losing the series finale against the Rangers, the Angels (90-69) had won five in a row—three against the Texas after the last two in their series last weekend against the A’s.
Vladimir Guerrero went 4-for-4 on Thursday with two more homers for the Angels, who regained sole possession of first place in the West by winning the first three games in Texas.
It was the second two-homer game this week for Guerrero, who has 38 this year and is hitting .338 with a team-record 123 runs and 124 RBIs in his first Anaheim season. He was 12-for-17 with five homers and nine RBIs in the series.
The Rangers left a positive impression at home a day after being eliminated from playoff contention.
Adrian Gonzalez drove in three runs with a pair of singles in the home finale. After the game, the Rangers’ players and coaches circled the stadium, high-fiving fans in the stands.
“It just felt nice to win. We hadn’t been playing our best ball of late,” shortstop Michael Young said. “It may be a little too late as far as the postseason is concerned, it doesn’t mean we don’t want to finish strong and have pride in the way we play.”
The Rangers (87-72) were within two games of the division lead after sweeping three from Oakland last week. They followed that by losing five of six, including four in a row.
Texas was coming off four straight last-place finishes averaging 90 losses a season. But the Rangers weren’t out of contention this year until their 8-7 loss in 11 innings Wednesday night—the 158th game.
Both of Guerrero’s homers came off 6-foot-10 rookie Chris Young (3-2), who allowed just four hits over six innings with six strikeouts.
R.A. Dickey pitched the ninth for his first save of the season, and just the second of his career.
The Rangers took advantage of an erratic John Lackey (14-13), a potential Game 1 starter if the Angels make the playoffs.
Lackey had a season-high five walks with seven strikeouts over just 4 1-3 innings. He gave up five runs on seven hits, and the Rangers left the bases loaded against him twice.
“I felt fine. I wasn’t locating very well like I have been the last month or so,” Lackey said. “As far as my arm and healthwise, I felt fine.”
Gonzalez, a rookie first baseman getting his first start since April, hit a two-run single that chased Lackey in a four-run outburst in the fifth that gave Texas a 5-1 lead.
After Gonzalez’s RBI single in the second, the Rangers left the bases loaded when leadoff hitter Andy Fox, in his first start, struck out. Lackey walked two in the third, but the Rangers stranded three when Gonzalez grounded out.
The Rangers got back-to-back singles to start the fifth before consecutive one-out walks forced home a run. Gonzalez followed with his two-run single, and Chad Allen hit a sacrifice fly off Kevin Gregg.
Guerrero hit a solo homer in the fourth, and added a two-run shot two innings later to get the Angels to 5-3.
“Vladie’s been like that pretty much wherever he’s played this year,” Scioscia said. “He’s really given us a lift through this stretch where we’ve been playing well the last week or so. I hope the guys around him start doing what they can do.”
Texas got its last run in the bottom of the sixth when Laynce Nix tripled and Young followed with a sacrifice fly.
Texas finished 51-30 at home, matching the team’s second-most number of home wins. … Guerrero matched a career high for hits, his fifth four-hit game this season and 15th in his career. … Young went 1-for-3, upping his Rangers’ record to 212 hits, two more than Mickey Rivers had in 1980. … Texas had a home attendance of 2.5 million, the eighth time in 11 seasons to reach that mark.