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05/13/07 7:55 PM ET
Four homers not enough for Angels
Matthews drills a pair of dingers on Mother's Day
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Eight homers, four to a side, and here's the strange part -- not a single one by Vladimir Guerrero or Sammy Sosa. Yes, it was a wild and wacky Mother's Day at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, where the Rangers got the last whack -- Nelson Cruz's one-out walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth against Scot Shields for a 7-6 triumph that snapped the Angels' winning streak at four games in front of 24,847 fans. Gary Matthews Jr. pounded two-run homers from each side of the plate, in the first and fifth innings, but the Rangers also set off fireworks. Three times they came from behind, leaving the Angels frustrated with their inability to capitalize on golden opportunities in the seventh and ninth innings. "It was a slider outside, maybe left a little bit up," said Shields, who bailed out the Angels in Saturday's win by retiring Michael Young and Mark Teixeira with the bases loaded in a key spot. "I'm OK with that pitch [to Cruz]. It's a good piece of hitting. "It's frustrating. I throw the pitch I wanted, and he got it. He hit it hard and won the game for them. I tip my hat to him." The Angels had leads of 2-0, 4-3 and 6-4, courtesy of Matthews' two blasts and back-to-back homers by Shea Hillenbrand and Mike Napoli. But the Rangers kept coming back, with Ervin Santana serving up home runs to Ian Kinsler, Hank Blalock and Brad Wilkerson. It was 6-6 in the seventh when the Angels loaded the bases with no outs against reliever Joaquin Benoit. Guerrero doubled, Matthews was hit in the posterior with a pitch and Casey Kotchman's second of three hits was lined too sharply to right to enable Guerrero to score. Erick Aybar fouled out, Hillenbrand popped out and Napoli grounded out -- and the Rangers were out of trouble. "It's a must we come through in that situation," said Napoli, who'd used his pink bat for breast cancer awareness to homer to right-center field in the fourth and lash a single to left in the sixth. "It was in our hands right there. "It's not like we're not all trying to get the job done. It just didn't happen." Napoli felt Santana was throwing freely and hard, consistently in the 91-93 mph range, but was undone by his location on the three home runs. Santana, 2-5 this year after going 16-8 last season, yielded eight hits for six runs -- five earned -- in his six innings while striking out five. "It's a matter of missing by inches -- and not having a whole lot of luck," Napoli said of the young pitcher's struggles. "He's healthy and throwing well." Another unfortunate Angels pitcher was Hector Carrasco, ejected by home-plate umpire Alfonso Marquez for hitting Kinsler in the helmet with a 78-mph curveball leading off the seventh inning. "No way I'm throwing at the guy's head in that situation -- with a curveball," Carrasco said. "I want to get him out, where he's hitting. He didn't even move." Angels manager Mike Scioscia received his second ejection of the season arguing Carrasco's dismissal. Scioscia called it "ridiculous" that his pitcher was judged having harmful intent when Benoit -- throwing a fastball behind Matthews, who'd homered twice -- wasn't. Dustin Moseley got three outs in relief of Carrasco, and Shields registered four outs before Cruz ended it. Eric Gagne (1-0) got his first win as a Ranger after escaping a two-on, one-out jam in the top of the ninth. It was Matthews' day before Wilkerson hammered the tying shot in the sixth in the same general area where his former teammate had launched his second homer in the fifth. "It seems like one of those typical Texas games," said Matthews, who spent three years with the Rangers before signing his free-agent deal with the Angels last winter. "I've seen some barn-burners here. You end up with a bunch of home runs." It was the second time in his career Matthews has homered twice in a game. While with Texas, he also went deep from both sides of the plate in Baltimore on July 27, 2005. Already nursing a sore left ankle, courtesy of a foul ball, Matthews added a bruised back side to the list on Sunday. "The buttocks," he said when asked where Benoit's fastball hit him. "Fortunately, I have some padding there." After Orlando Cabrera singled and Matthews launched a two-run blast from the left side in the first against Mike Wood, the Rangers seized the lead in the third on Kinsler's two-run homer and Mark Teixeira's RBI double. Back-to-back homers by Hillenbrand (his first with the Angels) and Napoli in the fourth gave the lead back to L.A., but Blalock's homer in the bottom half tied it. Matthews' two-run blast from the right side against reliever C.J. Wilson -- estimated at 402 feet -- had the Angels temporarily back in front, 6-4, before Wilkerson unloaded. And the last whack belonged to Cruz and the Rangers, ending a run of five straight losses to the Angels this season.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.