A sacrifice fly that traveled no more than 20 feet off the infield dirt and a blooper that fell in front of one of the best center fielders in the game helped lift the Texas Rangers to a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday at Angel Stadium.
The win allowed the Rangers to avoid a three-game sweep to the Angels and remain 1 ½ games behind Oakland in the American League West. Nick Tepesch and six relievers limited the Angels to their lowest output of the series.
The Rangers were down 3-2 with one out in the seventh when Leonys Martin walked and Ian Kinsler followed with a ground-rule double ahead of Elvis Andrus.
The Angels elected to play the infield in to keep the tying run from scoring on a grounder, but Andrus lifted a fly ball into shallow right-center field.
Second baseman Grant Green had no shot at the ball, and right fielder Kole Calhoun raced in for a diving catch. But he was on the ground long enough for Martin to tag up and score for a 3-3 tie.
Alex Rios, slotted in the No. 3 hole for the first time since the Rangers acquired him Aug. 9, lifted a blooper toward Mike Trout in center field. But the ace defensive player dived and couldn’t make the catch as Kinsler coasted home with the go-ahead run.
Rios homered three batters into the game for the Rangers, who struck in the first inning for the second consecutive game only to see the lead disappear before having a chance to build on it.
Tepesch, making his first start since July 6, worked a scoreless first inning, but Calhoun started the second with a liner into the right-field seats to tie the game. Tepesch pitched around a two-out double in a scoreless third, and was lifted at 63 pitches in the fourth after a one-out single by Mark Trumbo.
Joseph Ortiz promptly allowed a double to Hank Conger, but Trumbo was cut down on a rundown on Green’s grounder to third. Andrew Romine, though, doubled down the left-field line to score both runners for a 3-1 lead.
Martin and Andrus were in the middle of the second Rangers' run in the fifth. Martin singled off Jason Vargas to start the inning and went to second as Kinsler grounded out. Andrus followed with a liner to center that brought in Martin.
Down 3-2, Ortiz and Alexi Ogando (6-4) combined on a scoreless sixth. After the Rangers jumped ahead in the seventh, Jason Frasor, Neal Cotts, Tanner Scheppers and Joe Nathan combined for three scoreless innings to end it.
Scheppers, though, had to work in the eighth after Cotts allowed a leadoff double to Kole Calhoun. He went to third as Trumbo grounded to second base, but Scheppers struck out Conger and got Green on a liner to center.