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Rangers ground Angels, force playoff for wild card

The SportsXchange

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers came into a season-ending homestand facing what felt like seven must-wins.

Their 6-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday completed the club's first four-game sweep of Los Angeles since 1978 and meant the Rangers will host the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday in a tiebreaker to decide the final wild-card berth in the American League.

"We are not going to change anything," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of his contest with the Rays. "We are going to go out there and play Texas Rangers baseball and keep doing what we have been doing. We have to continue to keep our game elevated and go out there when the opportunity presents itself to do what we have been doing."

The Rangers completed their seventh consecutive win, having lost seven in a row earlier in the month, to climb back into a tie with the Rays entering Sunday.

Texas catcher Geovany Soto said that the teams experience in the last week can help the Rangers in the high-pressured win-or-go-home tiebreaker.

"We have to go out there and put it all on the line," Soto said. "That is what we have been doing. I feel that the intensity has been there and hopefully we can keep running."

Soto's sixth-inning, go-ahead, double to score Adrian Beltre helped lift the Rangers to their 91st win of the season, fifth-most in club history, as Texas completed its major league-best 50th come-from-behind win of the year.

"He came up big for us today," Washington said. "Soto has been doing it all year. He is a professional and a team player, one of the best team players I have been around. He never complains and is always ready."

The Angels (78-84) ended their season below .500 for just the second time in the last 10 years, also doing so in 2010. Los Angeles ended September with 16 wins, tying its season-best achieved in May.

"I tip my hat to those guys," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of the Rangers play to close out the season. "They executed better than we did today."

Scioscia commended his team for their play during the final month of the season, acknowledging the team's never give up mentality.

"Our guys played as hard as they could," Scioscia said. "They never turned their backs even when we were struggling."

Yu Darvish pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing two earned. However, despite holding his opponent to two runs or fewer for his fifth consecutive start, Darvish was left with a no-decision after departing with a 2-1 lead and two runners on in the sixth.

"After the home run he settled down," Washington said. "But when it got late in the game and he got the double play you found two guys on the bag and I respect (Josh) Hamilton, a whole lot. With one swing of the bat he could make a difference."

Hamilton hit a two-out RBI single off Neal Cotts to tie the game at 2-2.

Darvish finished his final regular-season appearance with eight strikeouts to go with four hits allowed and two walks.

His 277 strikeouts for the season were the best in the major leagues.

Texas' bullpen allowed just two baserunners through the course of the final two innings. Robbie Ross struck out two, and he and Tanner Scheppers each worked an inning before being replaced by Joe Nathan, who retired the side in the ninth.

The Rangers responded to Mike Trout's 27th homer of the season in the first with two runs in the fifth.

A.J. Pierzynski picked up Texas' second hit of the game with a double that bounced off the left-center-field wall to lead-off the fifth, followed by a walk to Soto.

Craig Gentry brought the pair home with a double into the right-center-field gap to give Texas its first lead of the game.

Beltre and Soto would combine again in the eighth, this time each adding a solo homer to pad the Rangers' lead to 6-2.

Beltre's home run gave the third basemen 30 homers for the season, the fourth time in his career he achieved the feat.

Angels' starter Jason Vargas (9-8) lasted 6 1/3 innings. Vargas had not factored into a decision in three previous starts this season against Texas, but was left with his seventh career loss to the Rangers.

Vargas gave up seven hits and four runs (three earned), striking out four.

NOTES: Trout became the third player since 1900 to record 190 hits, 100 walks and 30 steals. Trout joined Ty Cobb in 1915 and Lenny Dykstra in 1993 as players to achieve the feat. ... Texas finished with 3,135,476 in total home attendance for 2013, good for second-best in the American League behind the Yankees.
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