Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre yanked a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning, and the Rangers beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 3-1 on Thursday night.
Beltre's bomb came as soon as an Angels pitcher made his first mistake of the night—the only mistake of the night—a 2-1 hanging slider that Ernesto Frieri left over the plate for Beltre to pull down the left-field line. It was the second batter the Rangers faced against a pitcher other than Zack Greinke; the first was Michael Young, who singled and scored on the home run.
Greinke went eight innings of one-run, five-hit ball. He struck out eight and walked no batters over 109 pitches.
Yu Darvish matched Greinke almost pitch for pitch, throwing eight one-run innings for the Rangers. He surrendered just four hits with nine strikeouts and one walks.
Texas took a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning. Nelson Cruz led off the inning with a single, was singled over to third on a David Murphy liner to center field, and Geovany Soto hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score the run. Torii Hunter's throw was spot on, but Cruz snuck in just behind the tag, swiping his back hand across the plate as his body slid past.
The Angels tied it in the bottom of the sixth when Hunter grounded into a one-out fielder's choice with runners on first and third. The chopped grounder to short wasn't hit hard enough for shortstop Elvis Andrus to turn the double play. Pinch runner Peter Bourjos scored from third.
Joe Nathan earned the save for the Rangers. He gave up a two-out double to Albert Pujols, but that was it.
The Rangers moved to 89-60 on the year and expanded their lead over the Oakland Athletics, who did not play Thursday, to four games. The Angels dropped to 81-69 and fell four games behind the Athletics and the Baltimore Orioles for a wild card spot.
Texas starts a three-game series at the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.
Talk about the game with Rangers fans at Lone Star Ball, and with Angels fans at Halos Heaven. Keep up with all things baseball at Baseball Nation.