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By Joe Haakenson, The Sports Xchange April 23, 2013 1:40 AM
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A.J. Pierzynski's two-out home run in the top of the ninth inning snapped a 6-6 tie and lifted the Texas Rangers to a 7-6, come-from-behind victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night at Angel Stadium. 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. 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 over Frieri (0-1). 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. 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. Singles by Ian Kinsler and Andrus to begin the game led to a first-inning run for the Rangers, and in the second inning, Texas added another run on three hits for a 2-0 lead. In the third, the Rangers had two hits and a walk to load the bases with two out, but Blanton escaped by getting David Murphy on a groundout. Blanton had to feel fortunate to be down only 2-0 after three innings, considering he had allowed seven hits and walked one. And in the fourth inning, the Angels offense broke through against Rangers Holland. Mark Trumbo, who was moved into the cleanup spot, walked to begin the inning, and Hamilton singled to center, moving Trumbo to third. Howie Kendrick followed with a double into the right-center-field gap to score both Trumbo and Hamilton, tying the game at 2-2. One out later, Iannetta's sacrifice fly scored Kendrick for a 3-2 Angels lead. Moreland's sixth-inning double leveled the score at 3-3. 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 Angels manager Mike 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.