Cole Hamels was able to minimize the potential damage that Mike Trout and Albert Pujols usually cause. As a result, he came away with another vintage performance for the Texas Rangers.
Hamels pitched six crisp innings Saturday night to win his ninth straight decision in the regular season, 4-1 over the Los Angeles Angels. He allowed a run and four hits, struck out four and induced three double-play grounders in his Angel Stadium debut.
Trout and Pujols both were 0 for 3 against Hamels. Pujols came in 7 for 30 lifetime against him with three home runs.
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"They're the best in the game for a reason," Hamels said "Pujols has been one of the best since I first came up, and being able to see what Trout does on a daily basis, you just have to make quality pitches and hope they get themselves out.
"They pick up on patterns and pick locations. And when you make a mistake, they make you pay," he added. "So I was trying to stay out of the heart of the plate and make sure I didn't get into any sort of pattern with them."
Hamel's value to the Rangers has been that of a savvy veteran who knows what to do in any situation. When they acquired him from Philadelphia at the non-waiver trading deadline last July, he had just pitched a no-hitter in his final start for the Phillies.
Manager Jeff Banister acknowledged that the Rangers weren't expecting the same pitcher who was the MVP of the 2008 World Series and NL Championship Series.
"There are times within the game that you still see it," Banister said. "The fastball's sharp, the breaking ball's sharp and the changeup is there. I mean, it's not quite as firm, obviously, as it used to be. The angle was probably a little greater then, and with the added velocity, his changeup was even more devastating. But it's still special."
Adrian Beltre homered and doubled twice for the Rangers, but they lost catcher Robinson Chirinos to a broken right forearm midway through the game.
"Obviously a blow to us, but this is the kind of thing that galvanizes this group. They pull together and play with a little more fever and passion," Banister said. "We knew Robby was hurting, but he wanted to give it a shot. But we knew it was a little more serious than what he and the trainer thought in the beginning."
Shawn Tolleson pitched the ninth for his second save.
Garrett Richards (0-2) gave up two earned runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Beltre, who turned 37 years old on Thursday, gave the defending AL West champions a 2-1 lead in the fourth with a leadoff homer. It was his first this season and 414th of his career, tying Darrell Evans for 46th place all-time.
Beltre has 36 homers, 137 career RBIs and 233 hits against the Angels, his highest totals against one club.
"He's a great hitter," Richards said. "We've had some battles over the years. He's seen me a lot. I made some mistakes tonight that he capitalized on, but he's a good hitter, so what are you going to do?"
The Rangers made it 4-1 in the seventh with Bryan Holaday's RBI double and Rougned Odor's run-scoring single against Jose Alvarez. Holaday had taken over in the fifth for Chirinos.
Pujols got an RBI on his first-inning grounder. It was the 1,700th RBI for the three-time NL MVP, breaking a tie with Jim Thome for 24th place all-time and putting him two behind Reggie Jackson.
Rangers: RF Shin-Soo Choo was scratched from the starting lineup because of a strained right calf muscle, which occurred while he was running on the wet outfield grass during batting practice. Ryan Rua started in his place. ... RHP Yu Darvish, still rehabbing from elbow surgery, threw 50 pitches during a bullpen session and is scheduled to throw live batting practice for the first time on Wednesday in Arlington while the club is in Seattle.
Angels: LHP C.J. Wilson, who underwent shoulder surgery last August, has been cleared to begin a throwing program on Monday in Arizona. "We're not even close to talking about him getting on a mound," manager Mike Scioscia said.
Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (0-0) gets the assignment in the finale of the four-game series. He was 0-5 with a 4.81 ERA in eight road starts last season.
Angels: RHP Jered Weaver, whose streak of six consecutive opening day starts ended last Monday because of nerve problems in his neck and shoulder, makes his season debut following a 2015 campaign in which he was 7-12 with a 4.64 ERA in 26 starts.