ARLINGTON, Texas — A game that featured a pair of aces starting on the mound shouldn’t result in a combined 15 runs and 28 hits.
Yet long after the aces departed Sunday, it was the Los Angeles Angels’ bullpen that made the difference in a 9-6 win over the Texas Rangers.
The Angels pounded out 15 hits and used five relievers over the final five innings at Globe Life Park.
“Can’t say enough about our bullpen,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “These guys are pitching a lot. They keep taking the ball. These guys are picking up the slack.”
A sacrifice fly by Yunel Escobar, scoring Shane Robinson, gave the Angels a 5-4 lead in the sixth.
That was enough to give Greg Mahle, the first of the Angels’ relievers, his first major league win. Mahle (1-0) pitched one scoreless inning.
The win prevented a three-game sweep by the Rangers, who collected 13 hits in the finale.
Kole Calhoun and C.J. Cron each had three hits for
Los Angeles. Texas’ Rougned Odor went 3-for-5.
The Angels broke the game open with a three-run eighth inning, highlighted by catcher Geovany Soto’s second home run of the series.
Soto’s solo shot, his third homer of the season, led off the inning. Robinson, just called up from Triple-A, walked, went to second on an Escobar single and scored on a Calhoun single. Escobar made it 8-4 when he scored on a double by Mike Trout.
The Angels scratched for a final run in the ninth inning with Cron scoring on a Robinson ground ball.
The Rangers managed two runs in the ninth off Joe Smith, the last of the Angels’ bullpen arms.
The game was billed as a battle of aces, but after five innings, both starters were gone and the score was 4-4.
The Angels’ Garrett Richards left first. Richards lasted just four innings and threw only 79 pitches while yielding four runs (one earned). He allowed six hits and was dispatched after giving up three runs in the fourth inning.
Richards said the early exit was the result of dehydration after an extended inning.
“That fourth inning was long. I threw a lot of pitches and I started getting tired,” said Richards, who said he felt fine afterwards.
“These guys played a helluva game. They bailed me out.”
After walking the leadoff batter in the fourth, Richards threw away a potential double-play ball when he fielded a comebacker but whipped the ball wide of second base.
That led to Ian Desmond’s RBI single and then Delino DeShields’ two-out, bases-loaded hit that plated two for a 4-1 lead.
The Rangers’ Cole Hamels then took the ball in the top of the fifth and coughed up the advantage.
Hamels issued three walks in the inning and loaded the bases twice, leading to three runs and a tie score.
The first run scored when Trout came up with the bases loaded and hit into a fielder’s choice. After Albert Pujols drew Hamels’ third walk of inning, Cron singled to right to score two runs.
Hamels missed his start the previous Monday because of a sore groin, but said his struggles had nothing to do with his health.
“I was just trying to establish strikes,” Hamels said. “You just can’t walk that many guys. I’ve really got to challenge them. Even though they are a really good team, I’ve just got to make them earn their bases.”
Manager Jeff Banister said there was no concern after witnessing Hamels’ shortest outing as a Ranger.
“It was not the command he’s used to, but most of the misses were small,” Banister said. “He gave up singles. Really didn’t get hit that hard. Balls off the ends of bats, ground balls…just small misses. He was trying to make good pitches.”
Hamels did not come back for the sixth inning after allowing four runs on seven hits and four walks. He kept alive the Rangers’ streak of 26 games with starters going at least five innings but snapped their streak of seven consecutive quality starts.