Texas win seventh straight on combined five-hitter

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Scott Feldman(notes) and three Texas Rangers relievers pulled off a rare feat at their hitter-friendly ballpark.

The foursome scattered five hits and David Murphy(notes) hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning to help the AL West-leading Rangers win their seventh straight, 3-0 over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.

The Rangers shut out the Angels in Texas for the first time since 2003 and had their first home shutout since last September.

“We got great pitching, great defense and timely hitting,” said Rangers manager Ron Washington after his team completed a six-game homestand with a sweep of their division rival. “I don’t think it can get any better than that, the three games we played at that level. It was a great series. We played good baseball for six days at home.”

Ian Kinsler(notes) and Marlon Byrd(notes) had RBI doubles, and the Rangers have their longest streak since winning nine straight from May 20-31, 2005. Texas, which has won 13 of 15 and leads the Angels by 4 1/2 in the division, also moved nine games over .500 (23-14) for the first time since June 1, 2005.

"(The Angels) put us to the test,” Feldman said. “They’ve won the division the last few years, so it’s nice to beat a team like that.”

Feldman and Jered Weaver(notes) (3-2) were in command until Texas broke through in the seventh when Hank Blalock(notes) led off with a double, went to third on Nelson Cruz’s(notes) single and scored on Murphy’s fly to right.

Jason Jennings(notes) (1-1) pitched the seventh for the win. Eddie Guardado(notes) allowed a walk in 2-3 inning, and Darren O’Day(notes) got four outs in his first major league save opportunity. Closer Frank Francisco(notes) is on the disabled list due to right biceps tendinitis.

Fans chanted “sweep! sweep!” after O’Day recorded the final out on a strikeout of Gary Matthews.

“It was awesome. I can’t say enough about the fans and hearing that ‘sweep’ chant going through the crowd,” said O’Day, who pitched for the Angels last season. “Coming here last year with the opposing team, I didn’t hear anything like that.”

Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton(notes) probably saved a run in the seventh with a leaping catch of a drive by Howie Kendrick(notes) before crashing into the padded wall in right-center. Hamilton fell on the warning track, scrambled to his feet and threw back to the infield to keep Matthews at first.

“It saved the game,” Washington said of Hamilton’s grab. “It was going to be the first team that gave something up was going to lose. Weaver was doing a great job. If (Hamilton) doesn’t get that ball and they score a run, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Hamilton finished the inning but was replaced by Byrd to start the eighth. Washington said Hamilton has a slight groin strain and is day to day. Hamilton came off the 15-day disabled list earlier this week after missing 13 games with a rib injury sustained when he crashed into the outfield wall in Toronto.

Feldman pitched six innings, allowing four hits with three strikeouts and two walks. Weaver gave up three runs and six hits in eight innings with seven strikeouts and three walks, but got no run support from his teammates.

“It’s tough here,” Weaver said. “They’ve got some guys who can bang the ball around. I got away with a few pitches early. But they got some key hits. To hold them down like that, it was a job well done.”

Kinsler and Byrd had RBI doubles in the eighth to make it 3-0.

Sunday’s game got off to a calmer start than Saturday’s did when Angels starter John Lackey(notes) was tossed after throwing his first two pitches to Kinsler, throwing over his head with the first and hitting him with the second.

Scioscia said after the game that Lackey would start Monday night’s opener of a four-game series at Seattle, with the rest of his rotation being pushed back a day.

The Angels were the popular preseason pick to win the division, but the Rangers have been surprising early leaders.

“It’s early in the season,” Weaver said. “It isn’t time for statements yet.”


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