Torii Hunter has watched several teams celebrate on the field at his club's expense, and he didn't want to see it happen again this week. So he did something about it.
Hunter drove in two runs to back Jered Weaver's solid pitching and the Los Angeles Angels beat Texas 7-4 on Monday night, keeping the Rangers' magic number at six for clinching their first AL West title since 1999.
"We really don't want them to clinch on our field and our turf," Hunter said.
By winning the series opener, the Angels made sure that won't happen. But they need to go no worse than 7-5 the rest of the way to avoid their second losing record in Mike Scioscia's 11 years as manager. The other was 2003, when they went 77-85 one season after winning the World Series.
"It's a little frustrating," Weaver said. "A lot of us have never been in this position before. A lot of things haven't gone our way. It's not an excuse, it's just the way the season's been going. What has it been for them -- 11 years? So it's exciting for them, obviously. We've been in that spot before, and all the pressure's on them. We're just going to keep playing and battling with these guys, because you never know what's going to happen."
As a result of Oakland's 3-0 win over the Chicago White Sox, the Rangers lead the Athletics by eight games with 13 to play -- including a four-game road series against the A's that begins Thursday night.
"You know you're on the cusp of accomplishing something," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "I've been in the game a long time and I've seen a lot of collapses. So I'm just trying to stay focused on what's at hand today and trying to keep those guys on the field focused on what's at hand. Whatever's built up inside of me, and whatever's built up inside of them, let's contain it until it's ours."
Texas entered this three-game set knowing it could eliminate the Angels from postseason contention by beating them twice. But it won't be easy, with Ervin Santana and Dan Haren scheduled to pitch for the three-time defending AL West champions.
"It wouldn't add to any satisfaction," Washington said. "I'm not into satisfaction at someone else's expense. I'm just into trying to win."
Weaver (13-11) allowed three runs and nine hits over 6 2-3 innings. Despite his won-lost record, which has been undermined by a severe lack of run support, the right-hander is having his best season statistically. He has a 2.99 ERA and 220 strikeouts, second-most in the majors behind Felix Hernandez (222).
Los Angeles got RBI doubles from Jeff Mathis, Howie Kendrick and Bobby Abreu in the fourth.
David Murphy tied a career high with five hits in five at-bats and Chris Davis delivered the first pinch-hit homer of the season for the Rangers.
"They've got a talented team, and everyone up and down their lineup can hurt you," Weaver said. "Their pitching staff has stepped up and done a tremendous job this year. Pitching in that heat in Texas, it starts to wear on a lot of those starters a little bit toward the end of the season. But they've stuck it out and played some really good baseball."
Fernando Rodney pitched a perfect ninth for his 12th save after Davis homered in the eighth against Francisco Rodriguez.
Derek Holland (3-4) was charged with four runs, six hits and three walks over 3 2-3 innings. The 23-year-old left-hander's pitching line would have been much worse if center fielder Julio Borbon hadn't robbed Juan Rivera of a grand slam in the third inning with the Angels ahead 1-0 on Brandon Wood's RBI single.
"Those guys are not going to lay down, Oakland is not going to lay down and Seattle is not going to lay down. So we've got to take care of business," Washington said. "They all play us tough. Yeah, we've got a nice lead, but I'm not comfortable."
NOTES: Holland is the only pitcher to throw a shutout against the Angels in Anaheim during the last seven seasons, beating them 7-0 with a three-hitter on Aug. 9, 2009. It remains his only complete game in 30 big league starts. ... Rangers CF and major league batting leader Josh Hamilton, who had two cortisone shots last week to help relieve pain from the bruised ribs on his left side, was examined in Los Angeles by Dr. Robert Watkins. The club expects to have Hamilton back before the postseason, and Washington figures the slugger will need 25-30 at-bats to get back to his .361-hitting groove. "If we do make the playoffs and he doesn't get back until we get there, then he's just going to have to figure it out in the playoffs. But that's hypothetical, because we ain't won nothing yet," Washington said.