Cole Hamels limited the Angels to one run in six innings and the Rangers' offense did just enough to capture a 4-1 victory in Southern California on Saturday night, giving Texas back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
Hamels gave up a first-inning run on a groundout by Albert Pujols and nothing else in his second start of the season, putting his ERA at 2.08. The 32-year-old left-hander got three double-play balls, scattered just four hits and pitched around three walks to best Angels starter Garrett Richards, who was charged with four runs (two earned) in 6 2/3 innings.
"Hamels was impressive," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He makes pitches when he needs to make pitches, he commands his pitches and moves the ball around when he needs to."
The Rangers (3-3) got a first-inning run for the third straight night on an RBI single by Prince Fielder, then got a fourth-inning solo homer by Adrian Beltre and took advantage of a couple of key errors to tack on two insurance runs in the seventh.
Texas catcher Robinson Chirinos broke his right forearm while batting in the fifth inning and is headed for the disabled list. He tried to hold up on a swing, but the foul nailed him.
The Angels have dropped four of their first five games for the first time since 2010.
"It's early in the season," Richards said. "We have a ton of games left to play, and we have a ton of talent in this locker room. We've started off slow the last few years, but we're right there in the end. It's a long season. Once everybody starts clicking, it's going to be fun."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Beltre hits No. 414 on big night: Beltre hit his first home run of the season when he went deep against Richards to lead off the fourth. It was also his 414th career home run, tying him with Darrell Evans for 49th all-time. Beltre was 3-for-4 with two doubles and he also started two double plays defensively.
"Pretty impressive night for Adrian," Banister said.
Escobar previously had some release-point issues in his transition from shortstop to third base, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia stated that his most recent throw didn't fall under that, saying: "He stayed open and tried to flip it over there and just threw it a little bit high. When he sets his feet, he's thrown the ball very well over there, so that's not an issue."
Hamels gets big boys: Hamels ran into trouble in the sixth when Escobar drew a one-out walk and Craig Gentry reached on an infield single, bringing up Mike Trout and Pujols. But Hamels got Trout to hit a chopper to Beltre, who took the force at third. Pujols then popped out to first to end the inning.
"They are the best in the game for a reason," Hamels said. "If you make a mistake, they are going to make you pay."
Sluggish out of the gate: The Angels' offense scorched through Spring Training, posting the Majors' second-highest OPS, but has struggled to get going early in the regular season. It managed only one run on five hits against Hamels and a collection of Rangers relievers on Saturday and has batted .189 so far this season.
"We just need to get on a roll here," Giavotella said. "It's hard to score runs when no one's on base. We have to work the counts better, draw walks, and kind of just get the line moving."
QUOTABLE "I felt the bone move and I thought the bone was broken. But I didn't want to leave in the middle of an at-bat." -- Chirinos
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS With a fielder's choice groundout in the first, Pujols notched his 1,700th career RBI, a milestone only 23 other players have reached. Pujols, with 560 homers, is the fourth youngest player to reach 550-plus homers and 1,700-plus RBIs for his career. Only Alex Rodriguez, Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron got there faster. Next on the all-time list for Pujols in both categories is Reggie Jackson, who amassed 563 homers and 1,702 RBIs.
REPLAY REVIEW Elvis Andrus was thrown out at home plate in the top of the fourth trying to score from first base on a double by Ryan Rua, and the Rangers lost the replay challenge as the out call stood. Andrus was trying to make it 3-1 with the run but instead was the third out of the inning. Andrus was thrown out by shortstop Andrelton Simmons as he slid in head first and could get his hand around the foot of catcher Carlos Perez to touch home plate.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Left-hander Martin Perez pitches for the Rangers against the Angels at 2:40 p.m. (CT) Sunday. This will be the Rangers third day game and they split the first two. They were 23-24 in day games last season.
Angels:Jered Weaver makes his first regular-season start in the series finale. The Angels' longtime ace was backed up earlier in Spring Training because of neck tightness and threw a sim game on Tuesday.