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09/23/10 2:40 AM ET
Passed ball dooms Angels in 12th inning
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- The Angels' Dan Haren and the Rangers' C.J. Wilson pitched brilliantly on Wednesday night, but neither starter figured in a decision that was left to the bullpens in front of 41,222 at Angel Stadium. Shaving their magic number for winning the American League West to four games, the Rangers averted a sweep by the Angels with a 2-1 victory in 12 innings when Jeff Francoeur doubled leading off and scored from third on a passed ball charged to Jeff Mathis with two outs. Matt Palmer, the fifth Angels reliever, absorbed the loss on the unearned run and fell to 1-2, the win going to Matt Harrison (3-1). Neftali Feliz's 37th save tied a Major League record for rookies. "Two unearned runs tonight," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, shaking his head. "It's a tough night for us. We just didn't get it done." The Angels trail the Rangers by 8 1/2 games with 10 left. In a season with too few highlights, the Angels managed at least to avoid the embarrassment of watching their three-year division title reign end on their own turf by taking the first two games of the series. "We did not want them celebrating on our field and throwing champagne in their faces here," Torii Hunter said. "Nobody wants to see that. We didn't want them having a party anywhere in our vicinity. If they do it at home, we can handle that. But not here." The Angels threatened to claim the lead with runners at the corners and one out in the eighth after singles by Reggie Willits and Howard Kendrick. But Alexi Ogando got Hunter to bang into an inning-ending double play started by shortstop Andres Blanco in the hole. "The only way you turn that [double play] is if you hit a rocket," Scioscia said. "Torii just absolutely scorched that ball. If Torii hits it with different pace or two feet over, that's a run. That's the only way to turn a double play on that ball with a runner going." Wilson was rolling along and Texas was clinging to a one-run lead when cleanup man Mike Napoli got the Angels even in the seventh inning with a drive into the seats in right-center. The big first baseman got lift on a 3-1 cut fastball for his team-high 26th home run. This was the Angels' third hit and first since Juan Rivera's two-out single in the fourth. A walk to Rivera after Napoli's blast ended Wilson's night, but Ogando restored order for Texas. The Rangers also managed only three hits against Haren, who departed after seven innings having yielded an unearned run. "We faced three quality pitchers in this series, but of the three, Haren really brought his 'A' game and stepped it up tonight," Rangers outfielder David Murphy said. "Our offense hasn't been clicking the way it should, but we had some good at-bats, grinded it out and came away with a win." The Rangers scored without benefit of a hit in the third inning. Julio Borbon walked with one out and took third when third baseman Kevin Frandsen threw wildly past second base on Ian Kinsler's ground ball for an error. Michael Young's sacrifice fly to left cashed in Borbon with an unearned run. "Dan pitched a terrific game," Scioscia said. "I don't think he was quite as crisp tonight [with only two strikeouts]. I thought he battled. I didn't see his best stuff, but that's indicative of the terrific pitcher he is. He pitched deep in that game and gave up an unearned run. We were not able to support him. That's tough." It was Haren's fifth consecutive outing spanning seven innings, and he has surrendered only five earned runs in those 35 innings while going 1-0 with four no-decisions. His season ERA dipped under 4.00, to 3.96, for the first time since April 15, his third start of the season for the D-backs. Haren bowed his neck and worked through a disturbance in the sixth. Young opened the inning with a single, moving up on Murphy's infield hit. Vladimir Guerrero flied to center, Young advancing to third. Needing a strikeout, Haren got one, putting away Francoeur. After an intentional walk to Chris Davis, Matt Treanor grounded to shortstop, leaving the bases loaded. Haren worked a perfect seventh and turned it over to Jordan Walden, who shut down the Rangers without a baserunner in the eighth. Fernando Rodney, Kevin Jepsen and Michael Kohn each worked a scoreless frame before the Rangers took advantage of Mathis' inability to handle Palmer's pitch to Borbon after he'd struck out pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland for the second out in the 12th. "It was elevated and probably had a little cut on it," Scioscia said of the pitch that got away from Mathis. "He just didn't get it." Palmer had walked Davis after Francoeur's double to the right-center gap, and Bengie Molina moved the runners up with a bunt. The Angels reached the 3-million mark in attendance for the eighth consecutive season. Only the Yankees among American League clubs have matched that feat.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.