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04/04/07 3:00 AM ET
Guerrero leads way in win over Rangers
Angels right fielder goes 4-for-4 with solo home run, three RBIs
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Sizzling Vladimir Guerrero is up to his old tricks, simply too hot to handle. Continuing his astonishing assault on Rangers pitching, the Angels slugger delivered a homer, three singles and three RBIs on Tuesday night, powering the Angels to an 8-3 victory at Angel Stadium. The four hits equaled a career high for Guerrero, a .440 career hitter against Texas with 21 homers and 49 RBIs in 218 at-bats. "I'm glad I don't have to face him," Kelvim Escobar said through a winning pitcher's smile, having gone 5 1/3 innings before turning it over to a deep and able bullpen. Just as in the opener, the Angels' newly designed relief corps frustrated the Rangers in the late innings. New setup artist Justin Speier got four outs and Scot Shields took care of the last six, sparing Francisco Rodriguez. Speier, the fourth Angels pitcher of the evening, left the bases loaded in the sixth when he retired Michael Young after the Rangers had scored once. Speier worked a scoreless seventh, and Shields finished the job with two perfect rounds, striking out two. Guerrero got the Angels started in the first against Vicente Padilla when he singled home Gary Matthews, who'd walked and moved to second on Orlando Cabrera's single. Cabrera, who had two hits and hammered three balls for outs, scored on a fielding error by Padilla. Ian Kinsler's second homer in two nights made it 2-1 in the third, but Guerrero got that back with a tremendous blast to center for his first homer. The Rangers scored in the fifth without benefit of a hit on three walks by Escobar and an error by Howie Kendrick, but Sammy Sosa went down swinging to leave the bases loaded. A three-run fifth was the end of Padilla's night. Matthews, Cabrera and Guerrero singled in succession. Matthews scored on Nelson Cruz's error handling Cabrera's liner, and Guerrero drove home Cabrera from third with a single to left. A two-out single by Casey Kotchman delivered Guerrero, who was walked intentionally in the sixth and singled in his final trip in the eighth for a perfect 4-for-4 night. Matthews, enjoying a highly productive opening series against his former club, had an RBI single in the sixth, and Kendrick delivered an RBI with his second single, in the seventh. Scoring that final run after singling, Shea Hillenbrand tweaked his groin rounding third and he will be examined before Wednesday afternoon's series finale. He's day-to-day, Scioscia said. Padilla was knocked out in the fifth, having given up nine hits and six earned runs while walking three and striking out one. "The problem is Guerrero is hitting everybody," Padilla said. "I think I made some good pitches, but one at-bat I broke his bat and he still gets a single. He's an exceptional batter." Guerrero is a .412 career hitter against Padilla with three homers and 10 RBIs in 34 at-bats. Padilla's first pitch of the night to Guerrero was up and in, a fastball that sent him spinning out of the batter's box. He climbed back in and singled to left, setting his night in motion. "He's a competitor," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Like any good hitter, he's not going to be intimidated. He's not going to back off." Guerrero's homer, leading off the third, came after he'd crushed one deep in the left-field seats -- foul -- in the same at-bat. Put them together, and he launched two balls about 800 feet. "It's his hand-eye coordination that makes him so good," Escobar said. "Vladdy sees the ball and swings at it. He has fun. He loves to hit. He can look bad for one pitch and then hit the next one." Escobar, his left shoulder flying open, left too many pitches up in the zone, walking five while striking out four and yielding three runs (two earned) and three hits. Escobar's moment of truth came in the fifth when Sosa had a chance to turn the game around with one of his celebrated swings. "That was exciting," Escobar said, grinning. "The fans got pretty loud. I threw him a slider, 3-2, and he missed it. That was the biggest out of the game for me, right there. "I kept us in the game, that's the main thing. I give a lot of credit to our hitters and our defense. It's always good when you can walk five guys and still win the game. That shows you can win without your best stuff." John Lackey followed the same general formula to a victory in the opener, lasting five sometimes-difficult innings before turning it over to the bullpen. "We're getting some things we need," Scioscia said. "The first two nights we needed a lot of outs from our 'pen. That's important to us, but we're going to need to get more innings from our starters. "Kelvim, as the game went on, his command left him. But all in all, he gave us a chance to win against a tough lineup. It's a good way to start the season."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.