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Pierzynski's homer pushes Rangers past Angels

The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A.J. Pierzynski gave Angel Stadium fans a fresh reason to dislike him.

The Rangers catcher, still booed in Anaheim for a play that occurred in 2005, hit a two-out, tiebreaking home run in the ninth inning Monday, lifting Texas to a 7-6, come-from-behind victory over the Los Angeles Angels.

On the first pitch thrown to him by Ernesto Frieri, the long-time Angels nemesis homered over the wall in right-center field, helping the Rangers earn their fourth win in a row and snapping the Angels' winning streak at three.

For Pierzynski, the home run was especially sweet considering the treatment he receives from Angels fans. During the 2005 American League Championship Series, he reached first base on a disputed dropped third strike, leading to a victory for his team at the time, the Chicago White Sox.

"It kind of makes me laugh a little bit," Pierzynski said of the booing. "Because it was what, 2005? Eight years ago? And they still remember. I've had family and friends in the stands and they've asked people why they boo me here, and people don't even know. So, it's cool. I love playing here, it's an awesome atmosphere every night. ... It was the place I played my first big-league game, so this will always be a special place. I think the fans are awesome."

Even if Pierzynski had few fans in the ballpark seats, he had one in the manager's office.

"That's what A.J.'s all about, he's a very exciting player," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He gets excited about a lot of things, and I love him. There's a lot of people who hate him, but I love him."

Frieri (0-1) began the ninth getting Lance Berkman on a fly ball to left field, then retired Adrian Beltre on a deep fly to left. His first pitch to Pierzynski was a fastball up in the zone, but Frieri said he wouldn't take back the pitch if he had the chance.

"I made my pitch," Frieri said. "It was a little bit outside. I wanted to go outside and maybe a little bit low, so, like I say, he put a good swing on the ball and it went out.

"I'm going to keep doing it. I'm going out there with my best stuff, and my best stuff is my fastball. If I'm going to get beat, I'm going to get beat using my best stuff. ... It's crazy, baseball. You don't think about it, you don't get crazy."

With the victory, the Rangers (13-6) increased their lead in the American League West to 1 1/2 games over the second-place Oakland A's and to 5 1/2 games over the third-place Angels.

Tanner Scheppers (2-0) pitched two scoreless innings of relief to get the win. Joe Nathan pitched a scoreless ninth for his sixth save.

Ex-Ranger Josh Hamilton, dropped to the No. 5 spot in the Los Angeles order for the first time, had the 16th four-hit game of his career. Mitch Moreland and Elvis Andrus had three hits apiece for the Rangers.

The Angels snapped a 3-3 tie with three runs in the sixth, getting clutch two-out hits by Chris Iannetta (RBI double) and Luis Jimenez (two-run single). However, the lead only lasted until the top of the seventh, when the Rangers responded with three runs.

Angels starter Joe Blanton was lifted after giving up a leadoff single to Andrus, and the Los Angeles bullpen, so good one day earlier (seven scoreless innings), failed to hold the lead. The Angels used three relievers in the inning alone -- Michael Roth, Dane De La Rosa and Scott Downs -- as the Rangers tied the game at 6-6.

"There's some positive things that have happened this last handful of games that we're going to move forward with," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "And unfortunately tonight one of the negatives was not being able to hold a lead."

Blanton's performance wasn't great, but he certainly pitched better than he had in his first three starts of the season. Blanton pitched into the seventh inning Monday for the first time all season, becoming just the second Angels starter to do so (Garrett Richards has done it twice), but he gave up four runs and a season-high 12 hits.

Rangers left-hander Derek Holland had his worst start of the season. After going at least seven innings and not giving up more than two runs in any of his first three starts, Holland was tagged for six runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings Monday.

NOTES: Angels pitcher Tommy Hanson was placed on the bereavement list Monday because of a death in his family, meaning Hanson will miss a minimum of three days and a maximum of seven. Replacing Hanson on the roster is right-handed pitcher David Carpenter, who was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake. ... Hanson had been scheduled to make the start Wednesday against the Rangers. Right-handed pitcher Jerome Williams is likely to make Wednesday's start instead, though Scioscia would not confirm it. Williams made 36 pitches over three scoreless innings Sunday, and Scioscia wants to make sure Williams comes out of it OK. ... For the first 17 games of the season, the Angels' 3-4-5 hitters were Albert Pujols, Hamilton and Trumbo. ... Hamilton began Monday night in a 1-for-21 slide and was hitting .176 overall. ... Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin is trying to break out of what has been a season-long slump. Martin, who is platooning with Craig Gentry, became the second No. 9 hitter in Rangers history to hit a home run and triple in the same game Sunday against Seattle. After going 1-for-4 Monday, he is hitting a season-high .243. ... Andrus, who signed an eight-year contract extension earlier this month, began the day hitting .154 (6 for 39) in his previous 10 games, his season average dipping to .197. Andrus, however, had no errors in 61 chances, the most errorless chances among AL shortstops.

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