ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Howie Kendrick’s two stints on the disabled list cost him a lot of valuable playing time and production in his first season as the Angels’ regular second baseman. Now that he’s back, it’s important for him to make up for lost time.
Kendrick drove in Garret Anderson with an infield single in the 10th inning and also had a two-run double for the Angels, who kept up the momentum after their sweep of Seattle with a 7-6 victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday night.
“I want to be in that situation and get the job done, and having the opportunity to do something like that and fit in with our team is great,” said Kendrick, who missed 32 games because of a broken finger on his left hand, and another 35 with a broken left index finger.
“It was very frustrating for me when I was on the DL. I wanted to be out there on the field every day. I can’t change the injuries, but I learned a lot of stuff during the time I sat out just by watching the game,” he said. “And by the time I came back after the second injury, I had a better idea of what I was coming back to.”
The Angels’ fifth straight win, coupled with the Mariners’ 7-5 loss at Toronto, put the Halos 6 1/2 games ahead in the AL West with 28 games remaining. Anderson also hit a two-run homer for Los Angeles.
This is only the second time in the Angels’ 47-year history that they have been alone in first place at the end of every month from April through August. The other time was 1985, when they went 2-6 during a critical stretch in the final two weeks and were overtaken by the eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals with three games left on the schedule.
The Halos also matched their 2002 world championship squad for the franchise’s best record after 134 games (80-54).
Anderson drew a leadoff walk in the 10th from Frank Francisco (1-1) and advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Maicer Izturis before Kendry Morales was intentionally walked. Casey Kotchman bounced into a force play with Anderson taking third, and Kendrick followed with an infield grounder that deflected off Francisco’s bare hand and the glove of second baseman Ian Kinsler, whose throw to first was late.
Darren Oliver (2-0) pitched a perfect 10th inning for the victory.
“We really didn’t play a clean game, but were fortunate to come away with the win,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “It was a little sloppy in a couple of areas and we had to use a lot of pitchers, But when push came to shove, we did some things we needed to do.”
The Rangers were down to their final two outs when Michael Young reached on an infield hit up the third base line against Francisco Rodriguez and stole second. Sammy Sosa, protecting the plate on an 0-2 pitch, hit a checked-swing, opposite-field bloop single over the head of first baseman Kotchman to drive in the tying run.
“He wasn’t protecting. He was fooled,” Anderson said with a big laugh. “I’ve done that swing before and I know what that means.”
Rodriguez, pitching for the first time in five days, blew his fifth save in 38 chances. But the Angels still managed to snap the Rangers’ five-game losing streak.
“We know we’re not going to the playoffs this year, but at the same time, it’s our responsibility as big leaguers to try and win every game we play,” Young said. “We definitely caught some big breaks in the ninth inning, like Sammy throwing out a checked-swing grenade that tied up the game.”
The lead changed hands three times in a span of two innings. Kotchman gave the Angels a 3-2 lead in the fourth with an RBI single that ended an 0-for-14 drought.
The Rangers pulled ahead 4-3 in the fifth against Joe Saunders when Vladimir Guerrero circled under Nelson Cruz’s towering two-out fly ball in the right field corner and dropped it. The miscue enabled Young and Marlon Byrd to score.
“They can hit, so you know you’re going in a game with a lot of runs scoring. You’ve got to keep putting runs on the board,” Anderson said.
The Angels regained the lead in the fifth when Anderson drove Vicente Padilla’s 1-0 pitch over the 18-foot wall in right after a two-out infield single by Guerrero. The home run was Anderson’s 11th of the season and it gave him 30 RBIs for August, leaving him one shy of his career best for any month— set in July 1995.
The Angels added a run in the seventh when Jeff Mathis beat the throw home from Kinsler on a grounder by Guerrero. It came in handy when Justin Speier gave up a solo homer by Cruz in the eighth to make it 6-5.
The Rangers finished August with a 3.75 team ERA, after recording a 3.95 mark in July. It’s the first time they’ve had an ERA under 4.00 in consecutive months since August and September of 1992. … The Rangers have been successful in a club-record 24 consecutive steal attempts, including Young and Byrd in the ninth.