ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Playing with first place in the AL West on the line, the Los Angeles Angels showed why they have won three division titles in the last four years.
Jeff Mathis(notes) hit a go-ahead three-run homer, Torii Hunter(notes) and Juan Rivera(notes) each added a pair of RBI singles, and the Angels beat Texas 9-4 on Monday night to spoil the return of Josh Hamilton(notes) to the Rangers’ lineup.
The victory gave the Angels a one-game lead over the Rangers, who led Los Angeles by 4 1/2 games when Hamilton went on the DL for the second time this season on June 2.
“You have to play well against whatever team shows up on the schedule,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “If we were playing any other team but Texas, it doesn’t mean we don’t have to bring the focus and intensity. When we’re playing well as a team, we can do this against anyone. But it’s still July, there’s still a lot of baseball left, and we’re still trying to evolve as a team.”
“Obviously, it’s one of those things that could have gone either way,” Weaver said of the snub. “Either way, it’s a win-win situation. You’re either going to St. Louis, or you get some days off. But I’m not going to let it bother me. It’s been a fun season so far, and I’ve got to keep it rolling.”
“It’s hard to take Kins out for the teams we’ve been playing,” manager Ron Washington said. “I mean, how can you tell Kins: `I’m going to sit you against Anaheim?’ or `I’m going to sit you against Tampa Bay?’ I wasn’t going to do that. He’s got seven days left, and he’s going to learn how to grind.”
Hamilton, who was 2 for 4 with a double and two strikeouts, missed 30 games after undergoing abdominal surgery and the Rangers went 15-15 in his absence.
“I would have stayed down longer if I didn’t feel like I was ready,” said Hamilton, who will play in his second straight All-Star game. “It’s good to be back up here and be around the guys again and actually feel like part of the team, instead of just a guy hanging out.”
Kevin Millwood(notes) (8-6) gave up nine runs and nine hits over five innings in the shortest of his 18 starts this season. He has given up 13 runs and 17 hits over 11 1-3 innings in his last two starts—both against the Angels—after giving up just seven runs in 40 2-3 innings over his previous six outings.
“I didn’t hit my spots. When I tried to go away, it would drift over the middle of the plate. And when I didn’t hit my spots, they hit those mistakes,” Millwood said.
Mathis gave Los Angeles a 3-2 lead, hitting his third homer of the season to left-center with two outs in the second.
The Angels made it 5-2 in the third with RBIs singles by Hunter and Rivera. They tacked on four more in the fifth when Hunter singled home a run, Vladimir Guerrero(notes) followed with an RBI double, Rivera an RBI single and Kendry Morales(notes) capped the rally with a sacrifice fly.
“We’ve seen him a few times. And when you see somebody that many times, you tend to have a plan and you try to stick with it,” Mathis said. “The guys were having good at-bats tonight, finding some holes and producing runs.”
The Rangers, coming off a three-game sweep of Tampa Bay and looking to improve on their 5-1 record against the Angels, took a 2-0 lead in the first.
NOTES: The Rangers led the Angels by as many as 5 1/2 games on May 30. The Angels have never overcome a deficit of more than six games to win any of their six division titles. … Weaver allowed 16 earned runs and four homers in 16 2-3 innings over his previous three starts—a skid that began with a a 6-4 loss to the Dodgers in which he and brother Jeff started against each other for the first time. … Both teams reached the midway point of their respective schedules. The Angels (46-35) were 48-33 at this stage last season and the Rangers (45-36) were 41-40.