Soto Walkoff Homer Caps Rangers Rally, Angels Fall 4-3
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Los Angeles Angels closer Ernesto Frieri sat silently at his locker, staring blankly at the ceiling.
The pats on the shoulder from teammates and manager Mike Scioscia did little to ease the hurt after Frieri gave up two home runs in the ninth inning against a Texas Rangers team struggling to score runs, and the Angels lost 4-3 Monday night.
“It’s a tough situation,” Frieri finally said. “We’ve been struggling, and I just went out there and gave up the game. We needed that win.”
Geovany Soto’s game-ending homer came after A.J. Pierzynski had already gone deep to start the ninth.
Pierzynski was in a 4-for-27 slide before his homer tied the game. There was a double-play grounder before Soto, who entered the game hitting only .198 this season, then hit a towering fly that landed in the left-field seats.
It was only the third blown save in 28 chances for Frieri (0-3).
The Angels, who could be without slugger Albert Pujols for the rest of the season after he went on the disabled list over the weekend, have lost four in a row and eight of 10 on the road.
“We did a lot of good things in the field, but it was a tough night for Ernie,” Scioscia said. “Against Pierzynski, he tried to get something elevated, but he got it down and in, where (Pierzynski) wanted it.”
The full-count pitch to Soto?
“It was a fastball, supposed to be down and away but it was middle-in and up,” Frieri said. “Every time I miss, I get hurt really bad.”
Jason Frasor (1-2) pitched a scoreless ninth for Texas, three days after he gave up a game-ending homer in an 11-inning loss at Cleveland. The Rangers had lost four in a row and 12 of 15.
The Texas comeback spoiled another solid effort for Angels starter Jered Weaver, who allowed only one run with six strikeouts over seven innings. The right-hander has a 1.31 ERA (seven runs in 48 innings) his last seven starts.
“It’s a little frustrating. This was probably one of the best I’ve thrown the ball in Texas,” Weaver said. “No lead is safe here, and obviously that was the case tonight.”
Dane De La Rosa allowed an unearned run in his inning of relief before Frieri took over in the ninth.
J.B. Shuck hit his first major league homer in the fifth, connecting in his 323rd career at-bat and 115th game. Later that inning, Erick Aybar drew a walk and Mike Trout had a two-out double before both scored on Josh Hamilton’s opposite-field grounder to left made it 3-0.
Texas had gone 26 innings without scoring a run, two short of the 41-year-old team record, until Ian Kinsler’s RBI single in the sixth. The Rangers had played 46 innings without leading a game until the second career game-ending homer for Soto.
“We needed that game after the offensive struggles we’ve been through the last few weeks,” Pierzynski said. “To have a game like that, especially at home after the trip we came off, it’s huge.”
Weaver had retired 12 in a row before Leonys Martin, in the leadoff spot for the first time in his 124 major league games, had a drag bunt in the sixth. The pitcher fielded the ball along the first-base line, but didn’t even attempt a throw since Martin had already run past him.
Martin got to second when Elvis Andrus unsuccessfully tried to bunt for a hit. Ian Kinsler, who went to No. 3 in the order with Martin leading off, followed with an RBI single for the first Texas run in three games, and also ended a scoreless streak of 19 2-3 innings for Weaver.
Andrus extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the eighth, then stole second, went to third on catcher Hank Conger’s throwing error and scored on Kinsler’s sac fly.
Matt Garza struck out six and allowed three runs over seven innings in his second Texas start since getting traded. The right-hander had won six starts in a row, including his last five for the Chicago Cubs before a winning debut for the Rangers last Wednesday against the New York Yankees.
“I thought Garza battled hard. They scratched for some runs,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “But we just kept grinding, kept grinding.”
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