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Holland leads Rangers past Angels, widen AL West gap

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Associated Press
9/20/2012 2:28:31 AM
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ANAHEIM, Calif. - C.J. Wilson's rough start was only one reason the Los Angeles Angels didn't capitalize on a golden chance to move up in the AL wild-card race.

With just two weeks left in the regular season, the Angels realize those chances are dwindling.

Derek Holland pitched seven innings of six-hit ball, Geovany Soto hit a late two-run homer and the Texas Rangers hurt the Angels' playoff chances with a 6-2 victory Wednesday night.

Alberto Callaspo hit a two-run homer for the Angels (81-68), who had won 15 of 20. Wilson and his teammates blew a chance to pull within 2 1/2 games of slumping Oakland (84-64) for the second AL wild-card slot, instead sitting 3 1/2 behind the Athletics and four games behind Baltimore with 13 to go.

Michael Young, Elvis Andrus and Mike Napoli had run-scoring extra-base hits in the third inning as the Rangers chased Wilson, their longtime teammate who flopped in his second-shortest start for Los Angeles.

"You can make it whatever you want to," said Mark Trumbo, who went 0 for 3. "I mean, if you treat it like a dire situation, I doubt that's going to do too much good for us. We're actually pretty loose right now, and I think that's the right way to go about it, as opposed to stressing out and trying to do too much."

One night after the Angels scored 11 runs without Albert Pujols, the Rangers dominated offensively and improved the AL's best record to 88-60 without sluggers Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre, who sat with injuries. Texas also moved 7 1/2 games ahead of Los Angeles — and four ahead of the second-place A's in the AL West standings with Oakland's loss at Detroit.

"Of course we look at the scoreboard," said Young, who has an eight-game hitting streak. "It's that time of year. I'm a baseball fan. You can do both, though. Obviously, what we do on the field trumps scoreboard-watching, but you can be aware of what's going on."

Wilson (12-10) went winless in five starts this season against the Rangers after leaving Texas to sign a $77.5 million deal with his hometown team last December. He walked the bases loaded in the first inning and gave up three runs on four hits in the third, forcing manager Mike Scioscia to pull him early for Jerome Williams.

"I wasn't happy to get pulled out of the game, but I wasn't doing well, either," Wilson said. "So it's my own fault. We're trying to win the game, so I understand. ... You've seen their lineup, right? They have a lot of good hitters, not just two guys. Everybody can drive in runs on that team and everybody can go deep."

The high-priced left-hander had pitched at least three innings in every outing for Los Angeles except his first start of the season against Texas, when he didn't return after a nearly two-hour rain delay.

"We know C.J. knows that we are a very aggressive bunch of guys," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "Tonight, we waited and made him throw the ball in the strike zone, and it worked for us."

Hamilton, the majors' leader with 42 homers, sat out with a recurring sinus condition that affects his vision, while Beltre had abdominal trouble. Hamilton and Beltre both had MRI exams, but the results won't be available until Thursday.

But Soto homered and Nelson Cruz had an RBI double in a three-run eighth for the majors' most potent offence.

Holland (11-6) struck out four and walked just one batter to remain unbeaten since July 31 while getting his first victory of the season over the Angels. Working in harmony with Soto, the catcher with a curious habit of singing to his pitcher, Holland went at least seven innings for the fourth straight start.

"We didn't have Hamilton, we didn't have Beltre, but I knew if I made my pitches, the other guys would make plays for me," Holland said. "I'm really happy with my teammates. They've been carrying us, and now I feel like I've got to step up."

Williams yielded one hit over 4 1-3 innings of excellent relief.

Pujols went 2 for 4, but made two significant mental blunders in his return to the Angels after missing Tuesday's game to be with his wife, who delivered their fifth child Sunday morning.

Pujols hit a long single in the sixth, but got thrown out by 15 feet foolishly trying to stretch it into a double — a decision made even worse when Torii Hunter doubled immediately afterward. Pujols then dived in front of second baseman Howie Kendrick to field a routine grounder in the eighth, allowing Young to reach base, and he eventually scored.

NOTES: Texas reliever Mike Adams pitched the eighth in his first action since sitting out the past week with right shoulder soreness. ... Mike Trout set yet another Angels rookie record when he led off the first inning with a single, surpassing Devon White's 283 total bases in 1987. ... Trumbo extended his horrendous slump to 27 for 158 (.171) with 67 strikeouts over his past 40 games.... An MRI on Texas RHP Tanner Scheppers' right knee revealed no structural damage. The Orange County native was hurt while covering home plate Tuesday night when Chris Iannetta scored on his wild pitch.

Derek Holland (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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