07/15/07 9:32 PM ET
Figgins on fire, but Halos fall in extras
Angels infielder goes 3-for-4, sets club record for career steals
By Larry Santana / MLB.com
Jered Weaver, one of 10 pitchers to climb the mound, got reacquainted with the Texas lineup, making his second start against the club in 11 days; Anaheim's most revered kleptomaniac etched a new entry into the history books, while its most accomplished setup man was foiled for the first time in 24 2/3 innings; an errant swing launched a bat that nearly took out the entire Rangers dugout; and somewhere, amid all the commotion, the Rally Monkey was sent back to its cage empty handed in extra innings.
Get all that? OK. Deep breath.
A Mark Teixeira solo blast to right field off reliever Justin Speier in the 11th ended a seven-pitch duel that snapped a tie and sent the Rangers home with a 5-4 win to avoid the sweep during the three-game series finale Sunday.
"I made a good pitch, and I tip my cap to him," Speier said. "He put a good piece of wood on it. We won two out of three, so I mean, it would've been nice to take this game, but I felt I made a pitch, and he just made the better of me today."
Weaver's attempt to avenge a July 4 loss at Texas fell short in his second consecutive bout with the Rangers, but it was not for lack of effort. The right-hander pitched seven near-flawless innings, allowing four hits while striking out six as two unearned runs crossed the plate. He used only 96 pitches, besting his previous five-inning, three-run, seven-hit, Texas effort.
Chone Figgins, the aforementioned thief, purged those two Texas runs of relevance with a pair of RBIs in a three-hit effort. Moonlighting as a second baseman in place of the injured Howie Kendrick, Figgins orchestrated three base thefts -- his second three-steal game this year and third of his career -- to set a franchise record for steals with 187, eclipsing previous title-holder Gary Pettis.
Pettis, the first-base coach for Texas, watched from the opposing dugout as Figgins slid into second base during the fifth to set a new career mark for Angels thefts. The two exchanged congratulatory salutes -- Figgins acknowledging Pettis' deeds of the past; Pettis acknowledging Figgins' unfinished march into the future.
"It's just one of those special times," Figgins said. "To be from the opposing team and come out there and tip his hat, it shows a lot of respect from both sides. It's an honor."
Figgins' historical rewrite highlighted a three-run fifth inning that slashed a one-run deficit. After Triple-A Salt Lake callup Jeff Mathis led off with a single to right, Reggie Willits reached on an error with a sacrifice bunt that was mishandled by pitcher Brandon McCarthy. Figgins followed with a laser to center that scored Mathis, knotting the score at 2.
With Orlando Cabrera at the plate, Figgins stole second to break Pettis' record. After the applause from the Halos faithful subsided, Cabrera sent Willits home with a sacrifice fly to right. A Vladimir Guerrero double to the same field scored Figgins, pushing the Angels advantage to 4-2.
Los Angeles maintained its two-run lead until the eighth, when the usually infallible Scot Shields was summoned from the bullpen. A two-out RBI double by Teixeira -- once again playing spoiler -- scored Ramon Vazquez, who doubled to lead off the inning. The run snapped Shields' streak of 24 2/3 scoreless innings. Teixeira was sent home on the next at-bat by yet another double, this time from Marlon Byrd, to tie the score at 4.
"I'm still a little upset at myself for letting that get away from us," Shields said. "It was a good opportunity for us to sweep them; especially with a two-run lead. I got to go out there and do my job. I let them get back in it and tie it up and eventually win it. It's definitely not easy to swallow right now."
The Angels appeared destined for a rally in the bottom of the inning. With one out and runners occupying each bag, pinch-hitter Maicer Izturis was sent to the plate to face Joaquin Benoit. But the only jolt he provided came from the accidental launching of his bat into the Texas dugout. After recovering his lumber, Izturis popped out to Travis Metcalf. Mathis followed with a pop out to Michael Young to end the inning.
Francisco Rodriguez took over in the ninth, forcing two quick groundouts before retiring Metcalf on strikes.
Rodriguez tossed another 1-2-3 inning in the 10th before conceding his post to Speier, who served up the game-winner. The Angels managed only one hit in the last three innings.
"We created some runs with not a lot of batter's box offense, and that's, I guess, a double-edged sword," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's great we can do that, but you'd like to see guys square up the ball a little better in the batter's box.
"We cracked the door open for them a bit early. You certainly have to play at a high enough level to absorb a miscue here and there, and for most of the game we did. But we just couldn't finish it off."
Larry Santana is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.