ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) –– C.J. Cron hit an RBI single on the first pitch he saw in the major leagues, doubled his second time up and hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the sixth inning to lead the Los Angeles Angels to a 5-3 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.
Howie Kendrick capped his first four-hit game of the season with an RBI double in the ninth and scored two runs. Right-hander Garrett Richards (3-0) allowed three runs and nine hits over six innings with two walks and a career-high nine strikeouts after three straight no-decisions.
Kendrick doubled with two outs in the sixth against reliever Shawn Tolleson (0-1) and scored the go-ahead run when Cron lined a 1-1 pitch to left. Joe Smith followed Fernando Salas and Ernesto Frieri out of the Angels’ bullpen and got three outs for his third save in as many chances since replacing Frieri in the closer’s role.
Cron, born in nearby Fullerton and drafted by the Angels with the 17th overall pick in 2011, had his contract purchased from Triple-A Salt Lake before the game after third baseman David Freese went on the disabled list with a non-displaced fracture of his right middle finger. Freese was hit by a pitch in the Angels’ series-opening 5-2 loss.
The Rangers threatened in the sixth when No.9 hitter Robinson Chirinos doubled with two outs and continued to third when the ball skipped away from Collin Cowgill in the right field corner. But Richards struck out slumping Elvis Andrus after an intentional walk to Shin-Soo Choo. Andrus was 0 for 5 with a game-ending double-play grounder and has four hits in 46 at-bats over his last 12 games.
Matt Harrison made his second start of the season for the Rangers, allowing three runs and 10 hits in 4 1-3 innings. The left-hander, was pitching on five days’ rest — a combination of Thursday’s off day and the team’s desire to keep his turn in the rotation from coming up during next week’s interleague series at Colorado.
Harrison, who signed a five-year, $55 million contract after winning 18 games in 2012, was sidelined for more than a year because of back problems after losing to the Angels in his second start of 2013.
For the second straight night, the Rangers spotted the Angels a 2-0 lead before pulling ahead 3-2. Prince Fielder led off the fourth with a single and scored on a fielder’s choice grounder by Mitch Moreland. Chirinos and Choo drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with two-out RBI singles.
The Angels tied it in the bottom half with an RBI single by Albert Pujols, who grounded into a force at third with the bases loaded to end the second inning.
Cron drove in Mike Trout with a two-out single to left field. Choo’s one-hop throw to the plate bounced off Chirinos’s glove, allowing Cron to take second. But Erick Aybar grounded out to shortstop Andrus, whose low throw was scooped out of the dirt by Prince Fielder.
The Angels added a run in the third on a fielder’s choice grounder by Aybar, after Kendrick’s infield single and a drive to right-center by Cron that bounced out of center fielder Leonys Martin’s glove as he ran full-speed toward the warning track.
NOTES: Cron’s three hits were one more than his father’s entire major league total. Chris Cron was 2 for 25 in 12 games with the Angels and Chicago White Sox between 1991 and 1992. … Cron led all of minor league baseball with 123 RBIs in 2012 while playing for Inland Empire of the Class-A California League. … After walking his first batter of the game, Richards struck out Andrus, Adrian Beltre and Fielder in succession. Fielder fanned on a ball in the dirt, one pitch after Choo stole second with an enormous jump before Richards came out of the stretch in his delivery. … Beltre, still looking for his first home run, has played eight games since coming off the DL.