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Kinsler's two-out RBI pushes Rangers past Angels

The SportsXchange

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Ian Kinsler's two-out hit in the eighth inning proved the difference as the Texas Rangers topped the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 in an early American League West showdown Friday afternoon at Rangers Ballpark.

Texas (3-1) upped its winning streak to three in home openers, the latest in front of 48,845 fans. The Angels (1-3) have dropped three in a row since starting the season with a win at Cincinnati.

The sellout crowd took particular delight in the travails of Josh Hamilton, the one-time Rangers fan favorite who signed with the Angels in the offseason. The former MVP went 0-for-4, striking out in his first two plate appearances, and he misplayed a ball in right field.

Hamilton was booed loudly during pregame introductions and every time he came up to bat. Hamilton took much of the blame from the fan base and local media for Texas' collapse in September that ended with a Wild Card loss.

"I took it with a light heart," Hamilton said of the fan treatment. "Where did Jesus feel it the most? His hometown."

"It is what it is," Angels manager Mike Scioscia added. "I'll tell you one thing, they definitely showed passion, that's for sure."

Both starting pitchers were solid Friday, but neither received a decision. Derek Holland pitched seven innings for Texas, giving up two runs on six hits while striking out five.

"I felt like I did a good job against their hitters for the most part and doing my part," Holland said. "It led to them making great plays and fighting for me. I felt like we've all done good. The saying's about hitting being contagious, but I feel like our pitching's contagious now."

Angels starter Jason Vargas worked into the sixth and left with a 2-1 lead.

The Rangers knotted the game at two in the seventh off Los Angeles reliever Garrett Richards. Adrian Beltre smacked a home run to left, which ricocheted off the top of the wall.

Kinsler's single to right in the eighth off Scott Downs (0-1) scored Craig Gentry from second base. Hamilton made the throw home on the play, but it short-hopped catcher Chris Iannetta and went to the backstop.

Texas closer Joe Nathan picked up his first save of the season by working a scoreless ninth. Tanner Scheppers (1-0) got the win with a perfect eighth.

"I wouldn't say that's the blueprint, but that's the situation where that's the type of ballgame we played," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "We're going to put a ton of runs on the board. We left a lot of men on the bag. We had opportunities to score more runs. But the pitching and the way it went on both sides, it only took three runs today. We're capable of doing it many ways."

Texas gave Holland an early 1-0 lead in the second after Nelson Cruz opened the inning with a double into the left-center gap. A.J. Pierzynski brought him home with a triple into the right-field corner that Hamilton had trouble picking up. Hamilton rarely played right during his five-year Texas stay.

The Angels tied the game in the third on Iannetta's solo home run to left off Holland, ending a streak of 20 consecutive scoreless innings by Texas pitchers. The Rangers finished the Houston series with two shutouts.

Los Angeles moved ahead in the fifth thanks to Mike Trout's RBI double to left to score Iannetta. The Angels opened the inning with back-to-back singles by Alberto Callaspo and Iannetta, but Callaspo was picked off second.

NOTES: The day began with an emotional ceremonial first pitch from Robbie Parker, whose daughter died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Parker is a lifelong Rangers fan. ... Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan sat in his customary first-row seat, and was accompanied by former President and Rangers owner George W. Bush. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones also attended the game.
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