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Trout's grab, Kendrick's homer lift Angels

The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Two dramatic plays gave the Los Angeles Angels a memorable win Tuesday.

First, Mike Trout made a game-saving catch in the ninth inning, then Howie Kendrick won it with an 11th-inning home run, lifting the Angels to a 5-4 victory over the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium.

The homer was Kendrick's second of the game after he hit just one all season before Tuesday. The game-winner came with one out off Rangers reliever Joe Ortiz, and it wouldn't have been possible if not for Trout's grab.

It wasn't Trout's first highlight-reel defensive play of the season, but the timing made it all the more spectacular. Playing left field, Trout made a diving catch just a few feet from the short fence near the foul pole, robbing Adrian Beltre of extra bases, and more important, what would have been a go-ahead RBI. As it was, the catch was the third out of the top of the ninth, keeping the Angels and Rangers tied at 4.

"Once it was hit, it was hooking away from me a little bit," Trout said. "The only chance I had was to dive a little bit and brace myself from hitting the wall. ... That's what we do in the outfield. We take pride in that stuff. Late innings like that, every ball that's hit, especially with people in scoring position, it's key to catch balls."

The Angels missed a golden opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the 10th, loading the bases with one out and Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton due up.

Rangers manager Ron Washington summoned Ortiz from the bullpen, and the rookie left-hander escaped. First, Ortiz got Pujols to hit a grounder to third, and Luis Jimenez was forced at the plate. Then he got Hamilton on a grounder to second to end the inning, Ortiz celebrating with a fist pump.

Kendrick already had an RBI single and a two-run home run in the game when he came to the plate in the 11th. Kendrick jumped on a 1-0 fastball from Ortiz (2-1) and deposited the baseball just over the outstretched glove of Rangers center fielder Craig Gentry and over the fence.

"I was just trying to get a pitch to drive," said Kendrick, who raised his average to .297. "He was trying to go in, and left it out over the plate a little bit and I was able to get a swing on it. He threw a really good changeup the pitch before and he was working pretty quick, so I was trying to take my time before I got back in the box."

The Angels (8-11) won for the fourth time in five games. The Rangers (13-7) saw their winning streak end at four games.

Angels starting pitcher Jason Vargas sailed through five innings with a 4-0 lead, but things got tight in the sixth. Elvis Andrus led off the inning with a single and Lance Berkman walked. They moved up to second and third when Beltre grounded out to second, bringing up Nelson Cruz. Cruz worked the count full, then hammered a hanging breaking ball over the fence in left-center field for a three-run home run, cutting the Angels' lead to 4-3.

The Rangers tied the game in the eighth inning against Angels reliever Scott Downs, but it wasn't all Downs' fault. The Rangers had runners on first and third with no outs on a single by Beltre and an error by shortstop Andrew Romine. A.J. Pierzynski followed with a sharp grounder to Mark Trumbo at first. Beltre broke from third halfway to the plate, then stopped. But Trumbo immediately threw home, allowing Beltre to return to third and Pierzynski to reach first, loading the bases.

The Rangers scored to tie the game when David Murphy grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, but Downs escaped further damage by striking out Mitch Moreland to end the inning. It stayed that way until Kendrick won it for the Angels.

"You can always go to a ballgame and dissect it, but the important part of it is, they went up 4-0 and we came back and we had an opportunity to win it," Washington said. "And they won it instead of us."

NOTES: Rangers RHP Matt Harrison had surgery Tuesday to repair a herniated disk in his lower back. No other problems were found, and Harrison, the Rangers' Opening Day starter, is expected to miss three months. ... Angels SS Erick Aybar (bruised left heel) is not expected to be activated Thursday when he's eligible to come off the disabled list. He likely will play a few games at extended spring training in Arizona before being activated sometime next week. ... Hamilton was back in the cleanup spot Tuesday after getting four hits in the No. 5 spot Monday. He went 1-for-5. ... Angels LHP Nick Maronde was called up from Double-A Arkansas in an effort to fortify the bullpen. To make room for Maronde on the roster, INF Tommy Field was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake. ... Los Angeles LHP Michael Roth (1-0, 3.60 ERA) will start Wednesday, taking the place of RHP Tommy Hanson, who is on the bereavement list following a death in the family. RHP Yu Darvish (3-1, 2.03 ERA) will start for Texas. ... Rangers OF David Murphy was 1-for-19 against the Vargas, so he began the game on the bench. Jeff Baker got the start in left field instead, but he bruised his left leg in the bottom of the first inning making a sliding catch and slamming into the short wall near the foul pole. He had to leave the game, and Murphy replaced him.
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