Angels 2, Rangers 1
The part-time catcher’s two-run homer in the fifth inning was enough for the Angels in a 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Thursday night, when three relievers combined for five shutout innings after an injury forced starter Kelvim Escobar to leave the game.
“I don’t care about homers, base hits or whatever. I care more about the wins,” said Molina, who has four homers in 71 games this season and 15 in 316 career games. “We are in this situation, we need wins. If that helped, I’ll take it any time.”
The Angels (79-68), a season-high 11 games over .500, won for the ninth time in 12 games to move within five games of AL West-leading Oakland. Seven of their last 10 games are against the Athletics.
Escobar left after four innings with tendinitis in his left knee that he said has bothered him all season. The right-hander expected to have an MRI on Friday.
“My last 15-20 games, I’d feel it some times, and it’d get better,” Escobar said. “Tonight, it got worse. It didn’t get better.”
Los Angeles and Texas played for the first time since Aug. 16, when there were three hit batters, a bench-clearing brawl and four ejections at the end of a contentious series between the AL West rivals. Both managers and five players (three Angels, two Rangers) were suspended the following day.
Rangers leadoff hitter Gary Matthews Jr. was hit by a pitch in the first inning Thursday night by Escobar. After Matthews was hit on the upper leg, there were no other pitches that came close to hitting batters.
“That was more ironic than anything,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “He wasn’t trying to throw at anybody. That was an accident, definitely.”
Hector Carrasco (6-3) replaced Escobar to start the fifth, and pitched 2 2-3 scoreless innings with three strikeouts and one walk. After Scot Shields pitched an inning, Francisco Rodriguez got the last four outs for his major league-leading 42nd save in 45 chances.
“Their bullpen is top shelf,” Rangers shortstop Michael Young said. “Our pitchers did a great job, but one home run and that was the ball game.”
Texas rookie Edinson Volquez (1-5) lost his fourth straight start despite allowing only two runs and six hits over five innings. He struck out two with no walks.
Rodriguez took over after Shields walked two in the eighth. The closer got out of that jam by striking out Ian Kinsler, then struck out the first two batters in a perfect ninth.
“The bottom line is we need to start scoring runs,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We are not going to be able to keep tapping into the resources of (the bullpen). … There’s a lot riding game to game and we’re going to need our bullpen intact if we’re going to make the run we hope to.”
Five of the Angels’ last six games have been decided by one run. They haven’t scored more than four runs in that stretch, but won three games.
Mark DeRosa’s RBI single in the fourth gave Texas a 1-0 lead.
Angels RF Vladimir Guerrero was 0-for-4, the first time in 25 career games at Texas he didn’t have a hit. Guerrero had hits in his first 44 games against the Rangers before going hitless in a game at home Aug. 5. … Feldman served the final game of his six-game suspension Thursday night. … Los Angeles started its final road trip of the season, nine games over 11 days. … Texas played the first game of a 10-game homestand before it closes the season on the road. The Rangers are 35-37 at home.