Wednesday, July 20, 2011
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Ogando pitches Rangers to 12th straight win, 7-0

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[July 20, 2011]  ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The Texas Rangers came into Angel Stadium with a business-as-usual attitude. None of this "critical series" stuff. That's for the second-place team.

Alexi Ogando extended an extraordinary run by Texas pitchers with eight innings of four-hit ball and the streaking Rangers beat the sputtering Los Angeles Angels 7-0 Tuesday night for their 12th straight victory.

"Our pitching staff's done an incredible job in the last couple of weeks. And it goes without saying that we believe in our lineup," designated hitter Michael Young said. "We know we're playing good baseball, but in no way, shape or form are we satisfied. We're happy right now, but we're not satisfied. We're capable of bigger and better things."

The defending AL champions, making their first visit to Anaheim since ending the Angels' run of three straight AL West titles, increased their lead in the division to a season-best five games over Los Angeles.

"We know they have a really good team, but we're trying to create some separation," third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "We're trying to win every game we can. We came here to win the series -- and who knows? Maybe all three games.

"We have some breathing room now and the starting pitchers have been pitching really good, so we feel comfortable knowing that no matter how many runs we score, we'll get the pitching," he added. "Pitching has been the key to this streak."

The winning streak is the second-longest in club history behind a 14-game run in 1991, and it has put the Rangers (56-41) a season-high 15 games over .500. They have outscored opponents 77-24 during this stretch, and the pitching staff has yielded two earned runs over the last six games -- including four shutouts.

"It's been great," Young said. "I mean, if you look at our three young guys in the rotation, they're all 95 (mph)-plus. But now they're getting to a point where they're starting to command their stuff. They're going after guys, they're attacking the strike zone and forcing guys to make contact. They're competing, staying poised and starting to show maturity. We're really happy with what they're doing out there."

Ogando (10-3) won his third straight start and first since July 6, lowering his ERA to 2.72. He struck out five, including Torii Hunter three times. The All-Star right-hander's only other career start against the Angels was on May 13, when he outpitched current major league ERA leader Jered Weaver in a 4-1 victory.

"He was Alexi. I didn't really expect anything different," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I expected him to pitch his game and keep us in the ballgame. He certainly did that. He was very good. We caught the ball behind him and put up five runs with two outs. That was huge."

Endy Chavez, the No. 9 batter, hit a two-run homer in the eighth against reliever Michael Kohn. The rookie right-hander also gave up solo shots to Josh Hamilton and Beltre to open the ninth.

The Angels, a game out of first place at the All-Star break, have dropped four of five. Tyler Chatwood (5-6) gave up three runs, seven hits and four walks in five innings. The 21-year-old rookie is 0-4 with a 5.54 ERA in his last five starts at Angel Stadium, where Los Angeles had won 11 of 13.

"I've got to cut down on walks. That's been an issue all season," Chatwood said. "I've got to stop trying to nitpick and just go after them."

The shutout loss was the Angels' 11th, and six of those games were started by Chatwood.

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"We've just got to get back swinging the bats," Howie Kendrick said. "Our pitching's been pretty good all year, and for the longest time we were in this game tonight. We had a couple chances early, but the guy made his pitches. He's been good all year, and tonight he didn't leave much out over the plate."

The Angels' best scoring chance came in the third, but Bobby Abreu stranded runners at second and third with a groundout.

Erick Aybar led off the Angels' fifth with a drive to left-center and tried to stretch it into a triple, but was thrown out. Mark Trumbo followed with his second double of the game, but it turned out to be Los Angeles' final hit.

"When Alexi hits his spots and throws strikes, he's effective," said Mike Napoli, who has started behind the plate in six of Ogando's starts. "It's huge for us, and it's a plus that we have another quality starter who can go out there every day."

Napoli, who spent his first five big league seasons with the Angels, was 2 for 3 with a pair of walks and scored twice in his first game at Anaheim since Los Angeles traded him and Juan Rivera to Toronto for Vernon Wells on Jan. 21. Four days later, Napoli was dealt to Texas for reliever Frank Francisco.

"It was tough. I thought I brought it to the table here, but obviously they thought they had to make a move," Napoli said. "I learned a lot when I was here. It was weird to walk in on the other side today, but I'm a Texas Ranger now and I love it there. This is my new home and my new team, and I'm the enemy now. We're having a lot of fun over here and we're a big family. We go out on the field and try to play for each other and not for ourselves."

Rangers part-owner and team president Nolan Ryan was scheduled to throw a first pitch and take part in a pregame ceremony inducting former Angels owner Gene Autry posthumously into the Angels Hall of Fame. But the 64-year-old Ryan, baseball's all-time leader in strikeouts and no-hitters, was resting at home after undergoing tests on his heart at a Houston hospital.

NOTES: The Rangers announced they will raise the height of all rails in front of the seating areas at the Ballpark in Arlington. The announcement came 11 days after a fan fell headfirst 20 feet onto concrete trying to catch a ball tossed by Hamilton, and died from his injuries. ... Autry is the ninth person to be inducted into the Angels Hall of Fame.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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