Young, Vlad power Rangers to comeback win

Young, Vlad power Rangers to comeback win

ARLINGTON -- This may be moot six weeks from now when the two teams meet again -- it was last year at this time -- but the Rangers have drawn first blood against the defending American League West champions.

Down four runs halfway through the game, the Rangers were able to rally for an 8-7 victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Tuesday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

The victory was the second for the Rangers in this two-game series against the Angels. The two teams don't play again until June 29, but right now, the Rangers remain in first place in the AL West, while the third-place Angels are 4 1/2 behind.

"It doesn't mean much other than we wanted to win," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "So we played a good game and beat them."

A year ago, the first-place Rangers swept a three-game series from the Angels at home and still ended up in second place when it was all over. But this does stem a couple of small rip tides. The Rangers had lost three straight in Toronto while the Angels had won six of nine prior to this series and were starting to make a move in the division.

"The biggest thing is playing this way after coming off the series in Toronto," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "Taking two from them is not bigger than two from Oakland or Seattle. But coming out of Toronto, to be able to come back and get back on track like that was huge."

"Last year is last year," Angels center fielder Torii Hunter said. "They're a different ballclub. They're more mature. Texas is a good team. They have great arms. It's going to be a battle all year."

Rangers starter C.J. Wilson suffered through his shortest outing of the season, but five relievers picked him up with 4 2/3 scoreless innings. That allowed the Rangers to rally for their eighth come-from-behind victory of the season against Angels starter Jered Weaver, who had a 2.42 ERA coming into the game.

"Anytime you have a come-from-behind win like that, you have to be happy with yourself," third baseman Michael Young said. "Tonight was a strange game. Two pitchers who have been throwing the ball well didn't have their best stuff and were really battling out there. We knew it would come down to the bullpens and our bullpen was the story of the game."

Dustin Nippert, Darren O'Day, Chris Ray, Frank Francisco and Neftali Feliz combined to allow two hits and a walk while striking out eight. They combined to retire the last 10 batters they faced with Feliz earning his 11th save. Feliz, who was hitting 100 mph on the radar, also saved Monday's 4-3 victory.

"One thing about tonight was Neftali," O'Day said. "The second night in a row and bringing his best stuff like that ... awesome."

In two wins over the Angels, the Rangers' bullpen retired 18 straight hitters in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.

"That's our job." O'Day said. "We had some rough patches in Toronto, but it seems like it's starting to fall into place and guys are hitting their stride.

Elvis Andrus and Young, batting 1-2 at the top of the Rangers' order, led the offensive assault. Andrus went 3-for-5 with three runs scored, while Young was 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Young, with a single, double and home run, was a triple short of the cycle and his three RBIs give him 745 for his career. That moves him into third place all-time in club history.

"Michael had a great night," Washington said. "He and Elvis were pretty good."

The Rangers hit three home runs, including a solo shot by Vladimir Guerrero in the fourth. That was his first home run against the Angels, making him the 32nd player to hit a home run against all 30 Major League franchises. Ian Kinsler's two-run home run in the fifth was his first of the season, coming in his 62nd at-bat.

Wilson allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings and the Rangers were trailing, 7-3, when his official line was completed. But he was spared his second loss of the season when the Rangers knocked out Weaver almost as quickly in the bottom of the fifth.

Kinsler went deep with two outs to make it 7-5 before singles by Guerrero and Josh Hamilton and a two-run double by Nelson Cruz tied it up. The Rangers then went ahead in the sixth on a one-out double by Andrus and a run-scoring single by Young.

Wilson wasn't around to get the victory and his ERA shot up from a league-leading 1.42 to 2.55 on the season. But the Rangers have still won the last six times that Wilson has been on the mound.

"We got it done," Washington said. "Both starters struggled, but our bullpen came in and got it done. At some point we have to get more out of our starters, but last night and tonight we needed our bullpen. That's their job. At some point, we may have to back off, but we have to do what we need to do to win ballgames."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.