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ARLINGTON -- This is why the Angels were the first team in the Major Leagues to clinch their division. Regardless of the circumstances, they find a way to win.
Having spent most of the season winning low-scoring affairs, the Angels came out on top of a slugfest on Friday. The Angels saw a seven-run lead turn into a two-run deficit before pulling out a 15-13 victory over the Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
The 15 runs were a season high for the Angels. The 28 combined runs were the second-most in a nine-inning American League game this season, while the 41 combined hits were the most in an AL contest in 2008.
And the Angels did it all without the likes of Vladimir Guerrero, Chone Figgins or Juan Rivera in the lineup.
"We didn't have our guys back that we're counting on," Halos manager Mike Scioscia said. "On the offensive side, there's some meshing that needs to take place. We've really had to mix and match."
Scioscia mixed together the right combination of players in his batting order, but it was the pitching staff that staggered through the game. The Angels scored in all but two innings, while the Rangers' runs were isolated almost exclusively to the third inning. Nevertheless, it made for a tight ballgame.
"We just couldn't stop it," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "We couldn't stop the onslaught."
That onslaught included at least one hit from every player in the Angels' starting lineup. Mike Napoli was a single shy of a cycle. Garret Anderson tallied four hits. Erick Aybar and Mark Teixeira joined Napoli with three hits each. Torii Hunter and Kendry Morales joined Napoli with a home run each. Morales and Napoli hit back-to-back homers in the third inning.
"I feel like I'm starting to get a feel for it at the plate," Napoli said. "Things are settling in. I'm taking batting practice more serious. I'm not just trying to hit home runs. I'm also trying to hit line drives."
As a result, Jon Garland took a comfy 7-0 lead into the bottom of the third inning. Garland began the inning with a strikeout of Chris Davis, and it looked like he might cruise through the frame.
Nine batters and no outs later, Garland still was stuck in the third inning and back where he started, with Davis in the box. When Davis launched a three-run home run, Garland suddenly was in line for the loss.
"I'll tell you what, that was something," Scioscia said. "This park is obviously hitter-friendly, and they are a good hitting club. It didn't seem like they missed anything."
With his 85th pitch landing over the left-center-field wall, Garland didn't get a chance to make up for his poor inning. He was taken out after the Davis home run and replaced by Darren Oliver, who got the Angels out of the inning and earned the 100th victory of his career.
Having played parts of eight seasons with the Rangers, Oliver felt it was somewhat appropriate the milestone win came at Rangers Ballpark.
"Most of them came here," Oliver said.
So, what happened to Garland in the third after having allowed just two hits and striking out three leading up to the inning?
"I felt phenomenal," Garland said. "They just came out and got me in the third."
Napoli observed: "He made some good pitches, and they just found holes and hit some seeing-eye singles."
From Scioscia's vantage point: "His stuff looked good. They didn't miss too many pitches."
In addition to crediting the Rangers' lineup, Rangers Ballpark seemed to share quite a bit of the credit for the explosive inning.
"The ball just carries here," Garland said. "Not much you can do about it."
"You never know in this ballpark," said Oliver, who called Rangers Ballpark home for all or parts of seven seasons. "Anything can happen.
"The ball carries here, and the outfield grass is fast -- the infield grass, as well."
But Scioscia also pointed out a simple fact about pitching that was evident Friday night: "If you're not making pitches, the scoreboard is going to show it," Scioscia said.
For Garland, Friday's start was his fifth tough one in his last seven outings. His September ERA rose to 6.75, while his post-All Star ERA is 5.78.
With the possibility of the Angels going with a three-man rotation in the postseason, and John Lackey, Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders also in the running, Friday's start didn't help Garland's case to be in the playoff rotation.
But Garland said he would try to put the start behind him and focus on his next one, rather than the playoffs.
"That's a decision I don't have to make," Garland said. "I'm not worried about it."
Eight Angels runs over the next five innings, though, got Garland off the hook for the loss.
Equally important were the 4 1/3 innings of relief Kevin Jepsen, Jose Arredondo and Scot Shields pitched to close out the game. They combined to allow just two runs and Arredondo tossed two scoreless innings.
Their efforts were significant to Scioscia, who doesn't plan on using closer Francisco Rodriguez for a while.
"We're going to give Frankie a couple of days to recharge," Scioscia said.