Blalock keys rally as Rangers defeat AL West champion Angels 3-1

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—For Mike Scioscia, having his top players healthy for the postseason is more important than finishing with the American League’s best record.

“It’s an advantage to play on your home field when you’re comfortable there,” the Los Angeles Angels manager said. “but not at the cost of not having your whole team ready to compete.”

Hank Blalock singled in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning as the Texas Rangers beat Los Angeles 3-1 Tuesday night.

The Angels (92-66) are tightly bunched with AL East-leading Boston (93-64) and AL Central champion Cleveland (92-63), which played later at Seattle.

Vladimir Guerrero rested a right triceps injury, and also gave Garret Anderson the night off. Kelvim Escobar was supposed to pitch Tuesday night but rested his sore right shoulder. The 17-game winner is expected to start this weekend.

Scioscia said after the game that Guerrero will be the designated hitter for Wednesday’s series finale.

Texas, coming off an 8-7 win over the Angels on Monday, trailed 1-0 when Ian Kinsler led off the sixth with his third single of the game. Kinsler advanced on a fielder’s choice, took third on Marlon Byrd’s infield hit and scored on a balk by Darren Oliver (3-1).

Blalock then lined a fastball to right that scored Byrd for a 2-1 lead. David Murphy added another run-scoring single in the sixth.

“Trying to get a fastball by Hank is like trying to sneak cheese past a rat,” Texas manager Ron Washington said.

Jamey Wright (4-5) pitched four scoreless innings in relief of Texas starter A.J. Murray to earn the victory.

Erick Aybar homered in the fifth for the Angels. It was his first in 223 career at-bats and stopped an 18 at-bat hitless streak.

Dustin Moseley threw four shutout innings in place of Escobar. He gave up four hits and struck out three in his first start since Aug. 20.

“He mixed his change and breaking balls,” Scioscia said. “He pitched a terrific game.”

The Rangers’ Michael Young was 0-for-3 and remained three hits shy of his fifth consecutive 200-hit season. The only players with five 200-hit seasons in a row since 1940 are Wade Boggs and Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki, who each did it for seven straight years.

Murray yielded five hits over five innings in his first career start, struck out four and walked one.

“I was a little nervous facing the Angels,” said Murray, who has made 12 appearances out of the bullpen this season. “I settled down as the game went on, and I made some good pitches.”

Notes

Aybar’s home run was just his seventh extra-base hit of the season. He has five doubles and one triple. … The Rangers, last in the AL West most of the season, moved within a game of third-place Oakland.

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