Angels 2, Rangers 0

Texas keeps fading

Angels’ Kazmir stymies Rangers

Mike Fuetes/Associated PressScott Kazmir threw six scoreless innings in his first victory with the Angels. Mike Fuetes/Associated PressScott Kazmir threw six scoreless innings in his first victory with the Angels. (Mike Fuetes/Associated Press)
By Stephen Hawkins
Associated Press / September 19, 2009

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ARLINGTON, Texas - Scott Kazmir is tuning up for the playoffs with a new team, and finally has a victory for the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels.

Kazmir pitched six scoreless innings to get his first victory since being acquired Aug. 28 from defending AL champion Tampa Bay, and the Angels won, 2-0, last night to stretch their division lead to a season-high 7 1/2 games over the scoring-challenged Texas Rangers.

“Any time you’re with a new team, you want to show what you’re made of. This was the perfect example. There was something I wanted to prove,’’ said Kazmir, whose former team has already been eliminated from postseason contention. “It’s always exciting to get your first one with your new team, especially a team that’s trying to get a playoff spot.’’

While the lefthander pitched well enough to win each of his first three starts - his ERA is now 1.42 in Los Angeles - he had gotten only four runs of offensive support while going 0-1. But Kazmir and three relievers didn’t need much help against the Rangers.

Texas was blanked for the fourth time in a five-game span - a first in team history. The Rangers have scored only once in 46 innings during their season-worst five-game losing streak.

“It just came at a bad time,’’ team president Nolan Ryan said. “It’s so unusual for what you think of for this franchise. Over the years, I’ve seen good hitting clubs go into slumps, but I’ve never seen a stretch like there where the whole team just didn’t hit.’’

While the Angels are closing in on their third consecutive AL West title, Texas’s chances of making the playoffs for the first time in 10 years are quickly fading. If Los Angeles goes 7-8 the rest of the way, the Rangers would have to go 15-1 just to force a division tiebreaker.

Texas trails in the AL wild-card race by seven games to the Red Sox.

After missing Thursday’s game with a bruised rib cage, Vladimir Guerrero homered for the Angels, his 15th, leading off the third. He extending another inning with a strikeout.

The Angels went ahead to stay in the first on Torii Hunter’s RBI single. That came right when Guerrero reached despite striking out, what would have been the third out, because of a wild pitch by rookie righthander Tommy Hunter (8-4).

Hunter struck out five with four walks in five innings.

Kazmir (9-8) struck out five with no walks, but threw 104 pitches through six innings.

Five days earlier, Kazmir threw a career-high 118 pitches in six innings against Chicago.

“It wasn’t like we gave him a big cushion . . . He pitched a terrific game. He worked hard, had to throw a lot of pitches. But he settled in and finished strong. It was an important six innings he gave us,’’ manager Mike Scioscia said. “Scott’s important to our rotation. He’s given us four good starts.’’

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