By Anthony Andro, The Sports Xchange
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Los Angeles Angels have a thing for drama.
Down to their last out Saturday, the Angels forced extra innings with a two-out, two-run homer from C.J. Cron and then scored three times in the 10th inning to beat the Texas Rangers 7-4.
The Angels have 40 come-from-behind victories this season, including 17 in their final at-bat. The Rangers have now lost 16 games in their final at-bat after not trailing Saturday night until the 10th inning.
Texas reliever Ricky Rodriguez retired the first two batters of the ninth before Luis Valbuena doubled to right-center field. That brought up Cron, who had struck out in his first three at-bats. He lined a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left to tie the score.
“I thought it might have hooked foul or it might have been a double,” Cron said. “But when I rounded first, I saw (Texas outfielder Delino) DeShields had his hands on his knees, so I thought, ‘Wow! I guess that one got out.’ It was pretty cool.”
After the Rangers failed to score in the bottom of the ninth against Yusmeiro Petit (4-0), the Angels drew three straight walks against Jose Leclerc (2-3) to open the 10th. Kole Calhoun then gave the Angels their first lead with a two-run single of Austin Bibens-Dirkx and Cron provided insurance with a sacrifice fly.
Blake Parker wrapped up the win with his fifth save for a Los Angeles bullpen that allowed one hit in 4 1/3 innings.
“We kept playing and got some key hits from Luis and then C.J. at the end to keep us in the game,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. “Obviously, Cron’s was huge.
“We did a lot of good things out there and put ourselves in position, and got some clutch hits late, and then had a really good 10th inning.”
It wasn’t so good for a depleted Texas bullpen, which surrendered five runs in the final two innings.
“They’re young,” said Texas manager Jeff Banister. “I’m looking for them to stay engaged and throw strikes. I thought Rodriguez threw the ball well. Look, he was a strike away from ending the game. The ball to Cron, you don’t get beat on the short side.
“It was one of those situations where he went down into his zone. He hit the ball well out of the ballpark. It’s still learning moments for these young guys. It’s the big leagues. It is challenging in those situations. They’re learning some valuable lessons in those situations.”
It was smooth sailing for Texas early.
Elvis Andrus put the Rangers up 1-0 in the first with a fielder’s choice grounder off Ricky Nolasco. The Rangers doubled the lead in the second when Carlos Gomez blasted a homer to left, his 17th of the season.
Texas right-hander A.J. Griffin retired the first 10 batters before Mike Trout doubled in the fourth. Trout came around to score on an RBI single from Albert Pujols to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Rangers got that run back in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single from Joey Gallo.
The Angels ended the night for Griffin in the sixth inning, as the Trout-Pujols combo accounted for another Los Angeles run when Pujols singled home Trout.
Griffin allowed two runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. Nolasco lasted 5 2/3 innings, giving up three runs and five hits while striking out six.
Texas pushed the lead to 4-2 in the seventh on a fielder’s choice grounder from Nomar Mazara but had just one hit in the final six innings.
Pujols and Trout each had two hits for the Angels. Gomez had two of the six Texas hits.
The Rangers must now rebound after missing a chance to get above .500 for just the second time in the last two months.
“There are a lot of games left,” outfielder Shin-Soo Choo said. “It’s tough to take this game tonight, but we move forward to the next game. They (the bullpen) did a great job the last 10 games. It seems like the bullpen did a great job. It just happened tonight.”