ARLINGTON -- A six-run deficit the past month has felt like it might as well be 12 or 20 for those watching the Texas Rangers, whose mighty offense was suddenly on the endangered-species list.
But the guys who swing the bats somehow remained supremely confident in the face of a roster-wide drought, knowing that at some point the offense would click again.
That time came Wednesday night, when three times the Rangers seemed destined for another loss to their closest American League West rival.
The Rangers overcame a pair of six-run deficits and erased a three-run hole in the 10th inning to storm past Anaheim for an 11-10 victory at Rangers Ballpark.
Ian Kinsler forged a 7-7 tie in the ninth with a solo homer, and Nelson Cruz started the 10th with a mammoth shot to get the offense going again. Elvis Andrus, though, was the hero as his fourth hit of the game drove in two.
“I didn't know I would be the hero tonight, but it's always nice when you do that,” said Andrus, who went 4 for 6 and drove in three runs. “It is the best feeling right there. That's a feeling you always want to feel.”
The win pushed the Rangers' lead in the American League West to four games and gave life to a team that looked like it would have to win tonight simply to avoid a four-game sweep.
David Murphy went 3 for 3 with two walks and Mike Napoli went 3 for 4 with a walk against his former team, which had used homers from Chris Iannetta and Albert Pujols to forge a 10-7 lead in the 10th against Joe Nathan (2-3).
Cruz, though, started the 10th with a 449-foot blast to left center, and Michael Young reached on an error. After Murphy walked to end an 11-pitch battle with closer Ernesto Frieri, Napoli singled to fill the bases and Mitch Moreland drove in one with another single.
After Kinsler popped out, Andrus hit a grounder inside the third-base line to win it.
“That was exactly what we needed,” Murphy said. “There's been kind of a stagnate, flat feeling in the dugout, and you can only talk it up so much and try to motivate guys verbally. Eventually there has to be some action and execution, and tonight was a perfect mix of all the above.”
The Rangers had generously contributed to a six-run Angels third inning as Yu Darvish suddenly couldn't find the strike zone and the reliable middle infielders couldn't finish off two chances at a double play.
Darvish struck out the side in order in the first inning, and added another strikeout in a 1-2-3 second. Maicer Izturis hit a one-hopper to Moreland to start the third.
Darvish was cruising.
But he walked Iannetta, the Angels' No. 8 hitter, and walked No. 9 man Andrew Romine on four pitches. More trouble followed as Mike Trout hit a grounder toward the mound that Darvish grabbed and threw to second base.
Andrus, who thought he might have to field the grounder, was out of position at second, and Kinsler said he didn't make the adjustment and cover the bag. Everyone was safe.
Darvish, though, got Torii Hunter to hit a double-play ball to Andrus, but Kinsler rushed his throw for an error that allowed the first two Angels runs to score.
Pujols followed with a two-run shot, which was followed by two more walks and a two-run double by Alberto Callaspo to put the Rangers in a 6-0 hole.
“A lot of things happened, unfortunately, on that play. It was kind of an unusual, awkward play,” Darvish said. “After that, giving up the home run to Pujols, I have to work to control the big inning and keep that from happening.
“I think I'm starting to maybe think about the walks too much, paying too much attention to not walking guys. I think that's getting into my head, kind of affecting my mentality.”
The bats responded with a run in the bottom half, which the Angels canceled out in the fourth after a two-out walk to Trout and a Hunter double.
Darvish managed a scoreless fifth, and the Rangers found some plate success against Garrett Richards. They started their half with singles by Young and Murphy, a double by Napoli and a Moreland sacrifice fly to make it 7-3.
Kinsler followed with a double for another run, and would score as Andrus followed with a single.
Murphy drove in another run in the eighth to bring the Rangers within a run, and the deficit was 7-6 entering the bottom of the ninth after Cruz threw out Kendrys Morales at home to end an Angels threat.
Kinsler, who finished with two RBIs, found the seats in left field for the tie with one out, and Andrus followed with a double before Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre popped out.
Iannetta hit the ninth pitch of his at-bat against Nathan just to the left of where Kinsler's ball had landed only moments earlier. Pujols connected again four batters later for his second straight two-homer game.
But the Rangers shoved right back.
“I thought it was a test of our character as a team and as an organization,” manager Ron Washington said. “As a team early in the game, we were giving it to them. But we fought back and won it.”
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760