ANAHEIM, Calif. — Euphoria swept through the set of the LA Angels’ postgame show, as the TV talent declared that the race for the American League West is not over.
No one in the Texas Rangers’ clubhouse has believed that they had the division locked up, and they wouldn’t have thought that even if they had completed a four-game sweep Thursday.
The Rangers were close, three-outs close, but the Angels finally got a big hit after going 35 innings without one.
Mark Trumbo delivered a two-run homer in the ninth inning off Mike Adams for a 2-1 victory that cut the Rangers’ lead in the West to six games.
But the Rangers weren’t sweating the loss, which snapped a six-game winning streak. They won three times in a key series against the second-place team, and left town with their advantage two games larger than when they arrived.
“We would have liked to have had this one. We put ourselves in a position to win, but it didn’t turn out that way,” outfielder Josh Hamilton said. “You get a lift from a walk-off like that. We definitely got a lift from coming in and playing as well as we did and winning three out of four from them.”
Mike Napoli’s homer off Jered Weaver to start the seventh inning was the game’s only run through eight innings, and Colby Lewis outpitched the Cy Young candidate with seven scoreless innings.
After Mark Lowe dominated in the eighth inning, Adams became the choice over Neftali Feliz as coaches stayed away from their closer who had worked in four of five games.
Torii Hunter started the ninth with a sharp single to right-center field, and Trumbo smacked a 1-1 cutter down the left-field line just inside the foul pole.
“I was trying to keep the ball down and trying to get a double play,” said Adams, who was trying for his second save since being acquired July 31. “That one stayed up, ran back across the middle, and he did what he was supposed to.”
Weaver and Lewis dueled through six scoreless innings, though the Rangers worked Weaver more than the Angels pressed Lewis.
Weaver needed 29 pitches to get out of the first inning and was at 98 pitches when he started the seventh. Napoli launched the seventh pitch that inning for a leadoff homer to break the scoreless tie.
After the inning, Weaver barked in the direction of Napoli, who watched the homer sail over the fence in left-center field but didn’t come close to showing up Weaver in the fashion that Carlos Guillen did July 31. Weaver threw at the next hitter that day at Detroit and was suspended six games.
“What? You can’t hit homers off him now?” said Napoli, who has a 19-game road hitting streak and four straight 20-homer seasons. “It gave us the lead in the seventh inning. He was shutting us down.”
The most serious threat the Angels had against Lewis was of his own doing. Peter Bourjos reached on a bunt hit with one out in the fifth and raced to third on an errant pickoff throw by Lewis.
But Lewis struck out Erick Aybar and Jeff Mathis to strand the runner at third. Lewis also left a runner at second in the second, sixth and seventh, when he got pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo to pop out in a 3-1 pitch with Bourjos and Aybar at second and first.
Lewis was done at 116 pitches, allowing only four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. But his 12th victory of the season flew away in the ninth as Trumbo helped the Angels avert the sweep.
“It didn’t work out,” Lewis said. “We’re rolling right now. Tonight? I wouldn’t worry about tonight. It’s something that happened, and we’ll move on.”
How Rangers pitchers fared: Colby Lewis delivered seven scoreless innings and outpitched Cy Young contender Jered Weaver. Lewis has allowed only one earned run in his past 13 innings. Mark Lowe blew away the top of the order in the eighth but Mike Adams didn’t retire either of the two batters he faced in the ninth.
How Rangers hitters fared: Elvis Andrus had hits in all three of his at-bats against Jered Weaver, who was forced to throw 116 pitches in seven innings. But the Rangers were only 1 for 5 with runners in scoring position, and the one hit was on the infield and didn’t produce a run.