Saunders leads Angels over White Sox, 3-2

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CHICAGO (AP)—As soon as he arrived, Mark Teixeira heard the warning from Angels manager Mike Scioscia: Forget about October.

Teixeira’s still trying to keep it out of mind even though the playoffs are very much in sight.

Joe Saunders flashed his All-Star form while earning his first win in over a month, and Los Angeles rallied to beat the Chicago White Sox 3-2 Sunday, avoiding a three-game sweep.

The AL West leader moved a step closer to its fourth division title in five years, thanks to a solid effort by Saunders and a questionable decision by Jermaine Dye to catch pinch-hitter Garrett Anderson’s sacrifice fly in foul territory in the eighth.

The Angels hung on after blowing a three-run lead the previous night and ultimately losing 7-6 on Jim Thome’s homer in the 15th inning. Now, their magic number for clinching the division over Texas is three.

“The first thing (Scioscia) said to me when I got traded over here,” said Teixeira, acquired from Atlanta on July 29. “Obviously, we had a nice lead, but at the same time, he said, ‘We’re not thinking about October. We’re not thinking about the division championship. We’re thinking about tonight’s game.’ And that’s the way we play every day.”

Saunders (15-7) earned his first win since July 30, holding AL Central-leading Chicago to two runs and four hits in 7 1-3 innings. He struck out four and walked one after going 0-2 in his previous six starts—exactly what the Angels needed after their bullpen worked 15 innings in the previous two games.

“Basically, I just went back to square one and got myself back over the rubber and (found) my balance point,” Saunders said. “I got a little bit more hand movement. I got a little easier arm path for me.”

Francisco Rodriguez bounced back after giving up the tying run in Saturday’s loss, pitching a scoreless ninth for his 55th save in 61 chances. He allowed a one-out single by Paul Konerko but retired Alexei Ramirez on a groundout and struck out Nick Swisher to end the game. Rodriguez is two saves shy of Bobby Thigpen’s major league record of 57 set in 1990 for the White Sox.

Konerko homered for the third straight game and Toby Hall went deep in the fifth to help the White Sox build a 2-0 lead, but Los Angeles knocked out John Danks during a two-run sixth.

The Angels went ahead for good in the eighth. Gary Matthews’ leadoff single and Mark Teixeira’s double put runners on second and third and chased Horacio Ramirez (1-4). Ehren Wasserman came in and retired Vladimir Guerrero on a grounder before intentionally walking Torii Hunter to load the bases.

Anderson then sent a foul down the right-field line that Dye decided to catch, allowing Matthews to score the go-ahead run.

“The whole way running there I was thinking either should I drop it or not,” Dye said. “It was too close to the line for me to make a decision. If I let it go and it ends up fair, then two runs score. If not, it’s a chance to get a double play. But you never know. It’s a second-guess kind of situation. … I just took the out. Playing at home in the eighth inning, take our chances, but we came up short. If we’re on the road, no doubt let it go. But tough play.”

Scioscia and Anderson said Dye made the right decision.

“The next time Garrett puts the ball in play, he might break the game open even bigger,” Scioscia said.

A wild weekend that started with the announcement that MVP candidate Carlos Quentin needs surgery on his broken right wrist and could miss the rest of the season also ended on a sour note for the White Sox.

Danks looked strong early on but seemed to tire in the sixth.

Teixeira doubled with one out, moved to third on Guerrero’s single and scored on Hunter’s double to right-center. D.J. Carrasco came in, and Guerrero scored on Rivera’s roller toward third before Brandon Wood struck out to end the threat.

Danks allowed two runs and five hits, and will make his next scheduled start. Manager Ozzie Guillen said before the game that he thought the left-hander was tired and might have him skip a turn if he struggled.


Konerko homered in four straight games from Sept. 4-7, 2005. … Los Angeles called up RHP Kevin Jepsen from Triple-A Salt Lake before the game, adding another arm to its overworked bullpen. The Angels also purchased the contract of infielder Freddy Sandoval, and recalled infielder Matt Brown and catcher Bobby Wilson from Salt Lake after the win.

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