Beltre powers Rangers past Angels
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Adrian Beltre played the past four games for the Rangers on one good leg, but that was enough to get him to the batter’s box in the first inning on Sunday and deliver a two-run double that ended up being the difference in Texas’ 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
Beltre sustained a Grade 2 hamstring pull on Aug. 31 and was expected to be sidelined until at least the final week of the regular season. However, he returned as a pinch hitter on Wednesday and assumed full-time designated hitter duties on Thursday.
“I’m going to have to find another dictionary to put the adjectives on what he’s doing,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “It’s incredible.”
The loss dropped the Angels two games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second American League wild-card spot with 13 games remaining. The Rangers remain five games back.
Texas starter Miguel Gonzalez (8-11) pitched past the third inning for the first time in three starts since he was acquired from the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 31.
Gonzalez lasted five innings, giving up one run and two hits, striking out two and walking five.
“I was a little wild, but we got it done,” Gonzalez said.
Yohander Mendez, Keone Kela, Matt Bush and Jake Diekman combined to limit the Angels to one run over the final four innings, the lone run coming on a solo home run by Mike Trout in the eighth. Diekman earned his first save of the season in his eighth appearance.
Gonzalez walked the first two batters in the first, the leadoff batter in the third and the leadoff batter in the fifth. The Angels followed the fifth-inning walk with their first base hit of the game when C.J. Cron lined a single to left. Kaleb Cowart then loaded the bases with a one-out single, and Trout’s sacrifice fly cut the Rangers’ lead to 3-1.
Justin Upton then walked to load the bases again, but right fielder Shin-Soo Choo made a running catch on a drive toward the gap by Albert Pujols.
“We had some opportunities on the offensive side,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We just didn’t get it done in the batter’s box.”
Angels starter Garrett Richards (0-2) was trying to build off his past two starts since coming back from a five-month absence caused by biceps nerve irritation in his throwing arm.
He went five innings for the second consecutive start, raising his pitch count from 63 in his previous outing to 74 on Sunday. Richards allowed three runs and two hits against the Rangers. He struck out seven and walked one.
Richards, who has posted better results against the Rangers than any team in his career, came in with a 9-3 mark and 3.13 ERA vs. Texas. He walked leadoff batter Delino DeShields to open the game. Two batters later, Elvis Andrus reached on a throwing error by third baseman Luis Valbuena, and both runners came home on a double to deep center by Beltre.
“For us to get on the board early off a double from Adrian is just huge,” Banister said.
Joey Gallo led off the second inning with a 490-foot home run to center, the third longest in the majors this season, stretching the lead to 3-0.
Richards then retired the next 11 batters in a row, but his offense was unable to make up the deficit.
“After the home run, I started getting my rhythm and timing going and started throwing more strikes,” Richards said.
The Rangers stretched the lead to 4-1 off the Los Angeles bullpen in the eighth. DeShields walked to lead off the inning and scored his second run of the game on a sacrifice fly to center by Andrus.
NOTES: Texas DH Adrian Beltre has five home runs and 14 RBIs in 10 games against the Angels this season, and owns more doubles (52), home runs (45) and RBIs (161) in his career against the Angels than any other player. ... The 490-foot home run by 1B Joey Gallo against the Angels was his 59th extra-base hit among 87 hits overall this season. ... Angels 2B Brandon Phillips missed his second consecutive game due to lower back tightness.