ARLINGTON -- Elvis Andrus hit two home runs while Robinson Chirinos and Delino DeShields hit back-to-back shots in leading the Rangers to a 7-6 victory over the Angels on Sunday afternoon at Globe Life Park.
The Rangers ended up taking two of three from the Angels and are now three games behind the Twins in the race for the second American League Wild Card spot. The Angels remain 1 1/2 back after the Twins lost to the Royals.
The Angels trailed 7-3 going into the ninth before rallying for three runs. They had the bases loaded and two outs before the Rangers finally hung on for the win.
"We don't expect anything to be easy this time of the year, especially with the landscape of the rosters," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Our guys continue to grind, that's who they are, that's their DNA. I love these guys, they been written off but they are not giving up, they are not going away. They are going to continue to play. It doesn't always look pretty, but they find ways to get things done."
Rangers starter Martin Perez earned his sixth straight victory by holding the Angels to three runs in six innings. Perez has an ERA of 3.15 ERA in those six starts in matching the longest winning streak of his career. This was his 11th win, also a career high for one season.
Andrew Heaney took the loss, allowing five runs in 3 1/3 innings. He is now 1-1 with a 6.98 ERA in four starts since returning from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.
• Heaney's start epitomizes Angels' rotation woes
"He didn't have as crisp a command this afternoon, certainly with his breaking ball," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He just didn't get a chance to bring that good mix that he had last time in. He gave a lot of counts back, missed some spots with his fastball that were close. He just had a tough time commanding counts this afternoon."
C.J. Cron's two-run double gave the Angels a 2-0 lead in the first, but the Rangers tied it on Will Middlebrooks' RBI single in the second and Andrus' first home run of the afternoon in the third. The Rangers went ahead for good in the fourth on Chirinos' two-run home run, followed by DeShields' shot.
The Rangers were leading 5-3 in the sixth when Andrus went deep again with a two-run home run off reliever reliever Keynan Middleton. It's the second time this season Andrus has hit two home runs in a game after doing it just once previously in his career. He is the first Rangers shortstop to have two multi-homer games in one season since Alex Rodriguez had three in 2003.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Unlikely back to back: The back-to-back home runs by Chirinos and DeShields marked the fourth time the Rangers have done that this season. Coming into Sunday, Chirinos had hit just three homers in 32 games since the All-Star break, after slugging 12 in 38 games before the break. DeShields had just three in 280 at-bats on the season. His ratio of one home run for every 93.33 at-bats was the fourth highest in the American League.
"We know when Delino is playing like this and giving us this kind of effort, he is an exciting player that can really spark our offense," Banister said.
"I gave up a couple 3-2 homers on fastballs," Heaney said. "When you've got a good heater going and you've got a 3-2 count, a lot of times you can beat guys, get them to kind of get big on a ball, or maybe roll a ball over or pop the ball up. Today I didn't have that, but I also didn't do a good job of trying to throw something else to keep the guys off balance."
Middlebrooks saves Perez: First baseman Middlebrooks made a huge defensive play in the last batter Perez faced in the game. An error by third baseman Joey Gallo on Cliff Pennington's grounder left the Angels with two on and two outs in the sixth. Brandon Phillips followed with a line drive that Middlebrooks snagged with a leaping catch to take away an RBI single and end the inning.
• Defense helps Perez to victory
"We hit the ball hard with some guys in scoring position," Scioscia said, "Simba [Andrelton Simmons], Gallo made a diving stop on his ball. Middlebrooks jumped up and saved a run. On the offensive side, even though we didn't have a lot going early, we put ourselves in some positions, and unfortunately we didn't get some hits to fall in."
Barnette gets hard-earned save: Rangers reliever Tony Barnette, holding a 7-3 lead, gave up a two-run double to Andrelton Simmons with one out in the ninth, leaving runners at second and third. But he struck out Cron. Kole Calhoun was intentionally walked and pinch-hitter Kaleb Cowart walked to force in a run. Barnette finally closed it out by getting Luis Valbuena on a grounder to third baseman Gallo to end the threat.
"I'm happy the team got the win," Barnette said. "Obviously a tough spot; they've got guys all through that lineup that can do damage. Walks almost came back to haunt me but we got the win, that's all that matters."
Rangers center fielder Carlos Gomez was ejected from Sunday's game in the third inning by home plate umpire Mike Estabrook after getting rung up on a called third strike. Gomez had already clashed with Estabrook on Saturday night. Gomez wasn't happy when Estabrook, umpiring first base, ruled that he went around on a check swing for strike three to end the seventh inning. Gomez could be subjected to further discipline from Sunday for flinging his bat all the way out to first base as he walked back to the dugout.
"Something was said, Mike took offense and threw him out of the game," Banister said. "Here we are in the month of September and where we are at, it's emotional. We're fighting for every single pitch and sometimes emotions run high."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Gallo tried to steal third with two outs in the fifth and was initially called safe, but the Angels challenged the call after Pennington appeared to tag Gallo before his left hand touched the base. The call was overturned following a replay review, ending the inning for the Rangers.
Angels: The Angels will head to Oakland and open a three-game series against the A's on Monday at 1:05 p.m. PT at the Coliseum. Rookie right-hander Parker Bridwell (7-2, 3.52 ERA) will start the opener for the Angels. Bridwell is coming off his worst start of the season against the A's on Wednesday, when he allowed a career-high seven runs over three innings.
Rangers: Right-hander Andrew Cashner pitches against the Braves at 6:35 p.m. CT Monday at SunTrust Stadium. Cashner is 5-2 with a 2.58 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in his last nine starts. This will be the Rangers' first-ever game at SunTrust and first trip to Atlanta since 2011.
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