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Cruz Drives In 6 Runs, Helps Rangers Axe Angels

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Slumping Nelson Cruz had two long homers among his four hits and drove in six runs as the AL West-leading Texas Rangers stretched their advantage to three games over second-place Los Angeles with an 11-7 victory over the Angels on Friday night.

Cruz started the night in a 4-for-27 slide that got him demoted to the No. 7 slot in the batting order for the first time this season.

He put the Rangers ahead for good with a two-run double in the second. Cruz, who had hit fifth or sixth in his first 109 starts this season, opened the fourth with a 452-foot drive to center field off Angels starter Dan Haren (13-7).

Cruz connected on a 425-foot, three-run shot in the sixth off Jerome Williams for his team-high 28th homer to make it 11-0.

David Murphy’s second career grand slam in the fifth knocked out Haren.

Michael Young had three hits and Mitch Moreland contributed a pair of doubles to an 18-hit attack for the Rangers, who’d been shut out twice in their previous five games.

Rangers starter Derek Holland (12-5) allowed one run and eight hits over 6 2/3 innings with six strikeouts and two walks to improve to 6-1 in his last 10 starts.

Holland received a standing ovation when he left after the Angels finally scored on Bobby Wilson’s seventh-inning single.

Russell Branyan had a three-run homer off Yoshinori Tateyama in the Angels’ four-run eighth and Howie Kendrick added a two-run blast in the ninth off Mark Lowe to set up the final margin.

Haren had won seven of his previous eight decisions and had gone at least six innings in 11 of his last 12 starts, but he gave up seven runs — six earned — and 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings.

The Angels had won six straight to trim Texas’ division lead to two games in an eight-game span. The Rangers entered the three-game series having dropped three straight to Boston by a total score of 30-7 and had lost five of their previous six overall.

Los Angeles opened the first with a threat on singles by Peter Bourjos and Bobby Abreu, the latter ruled safe on a close play at first on a grounder to the right side. First baseman Moreland fielded the ball, and after hesitating, raced to the bag and appeared to tag Abreu, who was called safe by first base umpire Derryl Cousins.

But Holland worked out of the jam, getting Howie Kendrick on a called third strike, and ending the inning with a double play when Torii Hunter struck out swinging and Bourjos was thrown out at third by catcher Mike Napoli on the front end of an attempted double steal.

Notes

Angels manager Mike Scioscia altered his rotation for the series, opting to start RHP Ervin Santana on Saturday and RHP Jered Weaver on Sunday. The right-handers will be starting on three days’ rest for the first time in their careers. Going with Haren, Santana (9-9) and Weaver (15-6) meant the Angels would send their top three starters to the hill against the Rangers. … Texas starts LHP C.J. Wilson (13-5) on Saturday. … Since 2003, the Rangers are 5-2 against pitchers starting on three days’ rest. … Rangers manager Ron Washington and his coaching staff will meet with the team’s baseball executives on Sunday to consider whether to make changes to the rotation for the final month of the season. … The Angels took batting practice on the field to get acclimated to the triple-digit temperatures. The Rangers have endured plenty of heat over a record-breaking Texas summer and opted to take BP in the air-conditioned indoor cages. … Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre begins a rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock on Monday at Omaha. Beltre has been on the 15-day DL since July 23 with a strained left hamstring. … Angels LHP Scott Downs was available in the bullpen after being out for a week with a tight left hamstring.

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