Rangers swipe seven bases, race past Angels

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Joe Haakenson, The Sports Xchange
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A funny thing happened to the Texas Rangers the past three days. After losing their home run and RBI leader, Nelson Cruz, to a drug suspension, the Rangers suddenly turned into the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals.

Leonys Martin and Elvis Andrus combined for five hits, four runs and six stolen bases Wednesday, leading the Rangers to a 10-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels that completed a three-game sweep.

In all, the Rangers had seven stolen bases (three each from Martin and Andrus, one from Craig Gentry) and 16 hits, and they moved into a first-place tie with the Oakland A's in the American League West.

Martin and Andrus wreaked havoc on Angels pitching from the top of the order, each stealing two bases in the first inning alone. It all came one night after the Rangers had six stolen bases, including three from Martin and two from Andrus. Martin now has 26 stolen bases this season, Andrus 30.

Unlike Tuesday night, when all 12 of the Rangers' hits were singles, Texas mixed in some extra-base hits Wednesday, getting doubles from Martin, Andrus and David Murphy and a home run from Adrian Beltre.

Beltre had three hits, scored four runs and drove in three.

"When you have guys like that get on by base hit or walk, steal second, steal third, it makes it easier to help give our pitching staff more run support," Beltre said of Martin and Andrus. "Hopefully they can keep it going.

"It was fun. We find a way to score runs, no matter how. They were aggressive on the basepaths, and we got some big hits with runners in scoring position. That's what we're supposed to be doing the whole year. It's not easy to do it the whole year, but now is good, and hopefully it's something we can carry on the next two months."

Rangers starter Alexi Ogando (5-3) lasted just five innings but kept the Angels' offense in check. He allowed only two runs on four hits, both runs coming in on a two-run homer by Mike Trout in the first inning. Ogando recorded his first win since May 15.

Angels starter Tommy Hanson continued to struggle, as he gave up five runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. He is winless since June 15.

"Well, there's some areas that we're just not very good at right now," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of his club, which fell a season-worst 11 games under .500 (51-62). "First and foremost, our starting pitchers, as a group, have to be better at getting us to a certain point in the game and taking some pressure off our bullpen and set the game up on our terms better. On the defensive end, we're not doing some of the things we need to do. In this series, it was controlling the running game, and those guys had some real good opportunities and made some good situations for themselves.

"We have to do a better job. It's as simple as that."

Trout hit his 20th home run of the season on his 22nd birthday. He became the first player in major league history to hit a home run on both his 21st and 22nd birthdays.

NOTES: With 77 career stolen bases though Tuesday, Trout joined Rickey Henderson and Ty Cobb as the only players in major league history to have 75 or more stolen bases before the age of 22. The first-inning home run Wednesday extended Trout's streak of reaching base safely to 38 consecutive games. ... Angels 2B Howie Kendrick's sprained left knee is feeling better. Kendrick, who was hurt in a collision with RF Collin Cowgill on Monday, had his knee wrapped but was in uniform and was walking without crutches. ... Andrus has been successful on 14 consecutive steal attempts and has been successful on 91 percent of his steal attempts this season (30 steals in 33 attempts). He is the first player in Rangers history to have five consecutive seasons with at least 20 steals. ... Rangers DH Lance Berkman might begin a rehab assignment this weekend. He has been on the disabled list since July 7 because of left hip inflammation. ... Texas LHP Matt Harrison will make a rehab start for Triple-A Round Rock on Friday. It'll be the third rehab start for Harrison, who is recovering from surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back. He's been out since April.