ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 28: Pitcher Tommy Hunter #35 of the Texas Rangers throws against the San Diego Padres on June 28, 2009 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Scott Kazmir pitched six scoreless innings to get his first victory for the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels and Vladimir Guerrero homered in a 2-0 victory Friday night over the slumping Texas Rangers, who dropped a season-high 7½ games back in the division.
Kazmir lowered his ERA to 1.42 in four starts since being acquired Aug. 28 from Tampa Bay, but had gotten little run support (four runs) while going 0-1 his first three starts. The left-hander didn't need much help against the scoring-challenged Rangers.
Texas was shut out for the fourth time in a five-game losing streak -- the first time in team history. The Rangers have scored only once in 46 innings.
Guerrero led off the third with a 408-foot blast into the left-field seats for his 15th homer and a 2-0 lead.
The Angels went ahead to stay in the first on Torii Hunter's RBI single. That came right after the inning was extended when Guerrero reached despite striking out, what would have been the third out, because of a wild pitch by rookie right-hander Tommy Hunter (8-4).
Kazmir (9-8) struck out five with no walks, but threw 104 pitches through six innings. Five days earlier, he threw a career-high 118 pitches in six innings against the Chicago White Sox.
Jason Bulger and Kevin Jepsen, who got out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, each pitched a scoreless inning before Brian Fuentes wrapped up the Angels' 11th shutout of the season with the ninth for his 43rd save in 50 chances.
Hunter struck out five and walked four in his five innings.
Los Angeles is closing in on its third consecutive AL West title while the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs for the first time in 10 years are quickly fading. If the Angels go only 7-8 the rest of the way, the Rangers would have to go 15-1 just to force a division tiebreaker.
The Rangers couldn't score even after a rare miscue by center fielder Hunter, whose errant throw allowed Ian Kinsler to take an extra base after a one-out single in the eighth while pinch-hitter Julio Borbon went to third. Hunter's first error in 265 games ended the longest active errorless streak by a major league outfielder.
David Murphy was then intentionally walked with two outs to bring up Jones, who flew out deep to right field.
Texas trails AL wild-card leader Boston by seven games. The Red Sox won 3-1 at Baltimore on Friday night.
The Angels had the bases loaded in the second after a single, a sacrifice bunt, an error and a walk. Bobby Abreu then hit a flyball to right, but Nelson Cruz made a spectacular running catch, extending his glove as far as he could above his head and making the grab in stride only a few steps from the warning track.