Mike Trout delivered a tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth inning, and the Los Angeles Angels rebounded from a rough start for their third straight victory, 4-3 over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.
Shohei Ohtani homered in his first plate appearance in eight days for the Angels (23-30), who have won 11 of 16 to stay on the fringes of the AL playoff race. Ohtani had two hits and scored two runs for Los Angeles, which remained 3 1/2 games behind Houston for second place in the AL West with seven games left.
“We’ve got to win out,” said Angels starter Andrew Heaney, who recovered for 6 2/3 impressive innings of six-hit ball after getting rocked in the first inning. “We’ve got to win every game, and that’s how everybody feels. We’ve got our backs against the wall, so we’ve got to win.”
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David Fletcher led off the eighth with a walk from Brett Martin (0-1) and got to third on an error at first by Sherten Apostel. Trout then lined a clean single left, extending the three-time AL MVP's hitting streak to five games.
Taylor Ward and Fletcher drove in runs in the fifth inning for Los Angeles. Mike Mayers (2-0) pitched the final two innings, striking out pinch-hitter Joey Gallo looking to end it.
Leody Taveras and Rougned Odor homered in a three-run first inning for the Rangers, who dropped to 5-21 on the road. Texas has lost three straight overall, including the first two in this four-game series at the Big A.
“Just because it’s the last week doesn’t mean you can shut her down and think you’ve done enough,” said starter Lance Lynn, who pitched seven innings of seven-hit ball. “We’ve got a lot of guys who are fighting for jobs next year. A lot of guys need to improve in the offseason, so every day that you show up, if you’re not trying to improve, then we’re going to have a talk. But so far they’ve been doing that, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Jared Walsh extended his hitting streak to 11 games for the Angels, but failed to drive in a run for the first time in that streak.
Heaney trailed 3-0 after his first four batters, but the Angels left-hander settled himself and racked eight strikeouts while pitching into the seventh inning for the fourth time in five starts. Heaney changed his approach when he realized the Rangers were sitting on fastballs — or in his words, “hunting heaters.”
Taveras hit the first leadoff homer of his career on the game's second pitch, and Odor followed with a two-run shot on the eighth pitch by Heaney, who had been exceptionally stingy with homers this season.
“When you give up a number like that early and your team is still in a pennant race, you don’t cave in,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “(Heaney) reinvented the game on the fly. Got away from the fastball, and his curve was much better. I loved everything about that.”
Ohtani trimmed the Rangers' lead to 3-1 with a solo shot to right in the second inning of his first chance to play since Sept. 11. The Angels benched Ohtani for a week after the designated hitter struggled through much of the middle of the season, particularly against left-handers.
Ohtani said he worked on his stance and his overall approach during his week off, improving his ability to see pitches. The Angels' entire coaching staff reached out to him, including Maddon and all three hitting coaches.
“They gave me a lot of good advice,” Ohtani said through his translator. “There was definitely some good stuff that they told me.”
After his sixth homer of the season, Ohtani singled in the fifth and scored from first on a hard-hit double by Ward. Fletcher tied it moments later with an RBI single.
“The team has been playing really well,” Ohtani said. "There’s a good flow with the team, and the last thing I wanted to do was interrupt that flow.”
Lynn pitched seven innings of seven-hit ball for the Rangers, yielding three runs with five strikeouts. Although Lynn threw over 100 pitches in his 36th straight start, the Angels snapped Lynn’s streak of 16 consecutive starts since August 2019 with at least six strikeouts, the longest active streak in baseball.
“Typical Lance,” Woodward said. “I think the mistake to Ohtani (in) the fifth inning, he got hit pretty hard, but that’s gonna happen at times, and he obviously kept us in the game. ... Our job is to get him another run.”
UPTON IS OK
Angels: LF Justin Upton was held out of the lineup after getting hit in the helmet with a pitch Friday night. Manager Joe Maddon said Upton is thought to be perfectly fine, but the four-time All-Star was kept out simply as a precaution.
Kyle Cody (0-1, 1.42 ERA) makes the penultimate start of his comeback season for the Rangers against Los Angeles' Julio Teherán (0-3, 8.90 ERA), who will try to salvage something from his rough season.