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Small Ball The Difference In Texas Loss

After Josh Hamilton tied the game at 2-2 with his 18th HR of the season, LA had two runs and four base-runners in the top of the seventh without ever getting a hit out of the infield.

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A walk. A bunt single. Another bunt single. A sacrifice fly. An infield single that Elvis Andrus knocked down but couldn't make a play on. One more sacrifice fly.

That was the play-by-play of the LA Angels seventh inning, which gave them the decisive two-run lead in their 4-2 win over the Texas Rangers on Saturday afternoon. With an offense that has been sputtering all season, the Angels returned to their small-ball roots under Mike Scioscia to grind out a victory.

When they signed Albert Pujols to a record-breaking contrast last off-season, they couldn't have imagined this is how they would have to scrape out runs. However, with Pujols looking nothing like the player who crushed the Rangers in last season's World Series, they had to dig deep into Scioscia's playbook to get a win.

The Angels two-run seventh inning came without a single hit into the outfield against either Matt Harrison, who left with two runners on and no outs, or Alexi Ogando. Ogando, for the first time all season, actually looked mortal, giving up his first hit to a right-handed batter all year before walking two consecutive hitters in the eighth. He responded with two straight strike-outs to end the inning, but the damage was already done.

The Rangers fans got what they asked for as former ace C.J. Wilson took the mound for the second consecutive day, but he was only able to throw 93 pitches in 5.2 innings. Nor, for that matter, was he able to slow down Josh Hamilton, who crushed a solo HR in the bottom of the sixth inning to give himself 9 home runs in the last 6 games.

Hamilton's exploits left the FOX national broadcast team almost speechless:

"If Jimmy Carroll was doing that at San Carlos Little League, I would say that is ridiculous. Josh Hamilton is doing this in the major leagues. That's what makes it even more astounding. We're seeing arguably the greatest week that any player has had offensively."

The loss sets up a decisive third game on Sunday between Neftali Feliz and Jered Weaver. And while it's only May, pulling out a series win in Arlington could help LA get out of their early-season rut.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.