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Claudio finishes win as Rangers sort out 'pen

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- One week later, just exactly who is the Rangers' closer remains a mystery. They haven't had a ninth-inning save situation since Matt Bush let one get away on July 1 in Chicago.

Jose Leclerc was warmed up for that role on Saturday night, just in case a save was needed, but that didn't end up being the case. Alex Claudio was the last man standing in a 5-2 victory over the Angels at Globe Life Park.

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ARLINGTON -- One week later, just exactly who is the Rangers' closer remains a mystery. They haven't had a ninth-inning save situation since Matt Bush let one get away on July 1 in Chicago.

Jose Leclerc was warmed up for that role on Saturday night, just in case a save was needed, but that didn't end up being the case. Alex Claudio was the last man standing in a 5-2 victory over the Angels at Globe Life Park.

View Full Game Coverage

Claudio, with two innings, was the third of three relievers used by the Rangers to nail down the victory after starter Tyson Ross left with two outs in the sixth and a 5-1 lead.

"We have a lot of talent down in the bullpen, and they did a great job tonight," Ross said.

Claudio, with the score still 5-1, made it interesting in the ninth after striking out Danny Espinosa to start the inning. Martin Maldonado singled and C.J. Cron doubled, putting runners on second and third.

The Rangers had Leclerc ready in the bullpen, but Claudio, facing the top of the order, retired Cameron Maybin on a grounder to short for the second out of the inning. A run scored, and Albert Pujols stood on deck as the tying run.

Manager Jeff Banister said he was ready to bring in Leclerc to face Pujols, but it wasn't needed. Claudio retired Kole Calhoun on another grounder to shortstop Elvis Andrus to end the game.

Video: LAA@TEX: Andrus makes a sliding grab to nab Calhoun

"Even with the baserunners, we know with Claudio we are always one ground ball from getting out of the inning," Banister said.

Claudio didn't get the save, but the outing reinforced his importance to the Rangers' bullpen. The Rangers are 13-2 in the last 15 games in which Claudio appeared.

"I don't care what inning I pitch; I just do my job," Claudio said. "But I like the feeling of the ninth inning. I like it when the fans are yelling 'Let's go!' I like the competition. I don't try to do too much, just go out there and compete."

The Rangers still have much work to do in sorting out the bullpen, but it worked on Saturday. Jeremy Jeffress, in his second outing since coming off the disabled list, pitched the Rangers out of trouble in the sixth, and Bush pitched a scoreless seventh.

Video: LAA@TEX: Jeffress nails Maldonado in a forceout

That's four straight scoreless outings since he was moved out of the closer's role. Banister also has veterans Jason Grilli and Tony Barnette in the 'pen, and Keone Kela will be coming off the DL soon after the All-Star break.

"There is a definite comfort and feel for the guys we have out there now," Banister said.

The search for the right bullpen combination continues, but the options are there.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Matt Bush, Alex Claudio, Jeremy Jeffress, Jose Leclerc