Rangers Hit 5 Homers, Trim Angels' AL West Lead

Rangers are in second place in the AL West

By GREG BEACHAM
|  Saturday, Aug 8, 2009  |  Updated 9:01 AM CDT
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Rangers Hit 5 Homers, Trim Angels' AL West Lead

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Rangers shortstop Omar Vizquel hit one of Texas' five homers Friday night against the Angels.

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Omar Vizquel still remembered all of the steps in a home run trot, even though it's been more than 22 months since he last made the circuit around the bases.

  The veteran infielder only had to follow the well-worn path of his slugging teammates during the Texas Rangers' latest big win in their AL West rival's ballpark.
 
Vizquel drove in three runs with four hits, including one of Texas' five homers, and Josh Hamilton hit an early three-run shot in the second-place Rangers' 11-6 victory over the division-leading Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
 
Hank Blalock, Michael Young and Taylor Teagarden also connected for the Rangers, who trimmed the Angels' division lead to 3½ games by chasing starter Joe Saunders in the second inning and battering three relievers for 15 hits.
 
The Rangers did it with Texas-sized power, increasing their major league-leading total to 168 homers. They connected three times in the fifth inning, when Vizquel's fly ball found the short right-field porch for the 42-year-old infielder's first homer since Sept. 30, 2007.
 
"I was happy I got a home run," said Vizquel, who had his first four-hit game since April 16, 2007. "I didn't want to leave without hitting one this year. It's always nice to hit one, to know that you can still hit one out of the ballpark."
 
Scott Feldman (11-4) recovered from a shaky first inning to pitch six strong innings for the Rangers, who lost the AL West lead to Los Angeles four weeks ago. But Texas has won eight of 10 meetings with the Angels this season, a success that could prove decisive with two more series between them after this weekend.
 
"It's nice to have a lot of runs on the board early," said Feldman, who won for the sixth time in eight starts. "It made it real easy to get a lot of rest between innings. We've been swinging the bats pretty good the last couple of games, and hopefully we can keep playing well. Hopefully we can win this series and get some momentum."
 
Maicer Izturis hit a three-run homer and tied his career high with four RBIs for the Angels, who trailed 9-1 by the fifth inning of a rocky homestand opener. Los Angeles, which has lost three of four for the first time in five weeks, put Saunders on the disabled list after the game with tightness in his shoulder.
 
Vizquel's leadoff single portended trouble for Saunders (9-7), the inconsistent left-hander who hasn't allowed fewer than four runs in a start since June. He gave up five hits and five runs in his shortest start of the season, and the Angels shut him down afterward, recalling right-hander Jose Arredondo from Triple-A Salt Lake.
 
"We're just at a stage where this thing needs to calm down for him to be effective," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think it's fairly obvious now he's a long way away from where he needs to be."
 
Vizquel drove in a run in the second before Saunders left, and the veteran added another RBI single in the fourth. Reliever Justin Speier gave up three solo homers in four at-bats in the fifth, including back-to-back shots by Vizquel and Young, who has a 14-game hitting streak.
 
"We hit the ball hard, and that wakes up the team a little bit," Vizquel said. "We raised the level of our game against these guys."
 
Before his homer, Hamilton had just one extra-base hit in his last 15 games during an 11-for-64 slump. His long shot to right-center was his second homer since returning from the disabled list July 6.
 
"He's starting to look better as far as timing goes," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He's starting to take some walks, which he needs to do, and he's starting to find the fat part of his bat."
 
Los Angeles didn't rally until the seventh, when Izturis hit his sixth homer off reliever Jason Jennings before Neftali Feliz got Kendry Morales to pop up with the bases loaded.
 
"They're a strong club," Scioscia said. "We're going to have to play well to get through our division, and this is a bump in the road. We have to focus on how we're playing the game, not who or where."

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