ANAHEIM -- Felix Pena wasn't on the Angels' rotation depth chart at the beginning of the season. Acquired from the Cubs in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations last October, Pena was initially viewed as a potential multi-inning reliever before the Angels decided to try him
ANAHEIM -- Felix Pena wasn't on the Angels' rotation depth chart at the beginning of the season. Acquired from the Cubs in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations last October, Pena was initially viewed as a potential multi-inning reliever before the Angels decided to try him out as a starter following a series of injuries to their rotation.
Pena made his first career start on June 19, and his performance since then suggests that he will enter 2019 as a legitimate starting option. The 28-year-old right-hander delivered yet again on Wednesday night, firing six scoreless innings to lead the Angels to an 8-1 win and a series victory over the Rangers at Angel Stadium.
The outing lowered Pena's ERA to 3.53 as a starter this season. He has pitched at least six innings in each of his last six starts and has logged a 2.37 ERA over that span.
"I feel really happy because it's been almost three years since I've started," Pena said in Spanish. "I was a reliever and I hadn't thrown that many innings, but I feel good. Thanks to God, I feel strong. I think I can keep doing a good job."
Francisco Arcia, who entered Wednesday mired in a 1-for-27 slump, homered twice and drove in four runs to help back Pena's effort, giving the Angels (73-73) their sixth win in their last seven games and lifting them back to .500. Jose Fernandez added a solo shot, while Andrelton Simmons went 3-for-3 with two runs scored.
Pena scattered six hits while walking one and striking out three to earn his first career home win. He departed after throwing just 77 pitches, as manager Mike Scioscia felt the right-hander "grinding" to get through the outing.
"I didn't think Felix was quite as crisp as we saw him when he pitched last week on our road trip, but he finished a good six innings," Scioscia said.
The Angels chased Rangers right-hander Yovani Gallardo after just three innings and roughed him up for six runs. They got on the board in the second after Simmons singled and Taylor Ward walked to set up Arcia's two-run double to the right-field corner.
The Angels padded their lead by adding four more runs via a team cycle in the third. Shohei Ohtani reached on a two-out double and scored on Justin Upton's triple, which snapped an 0-for-15 skid for the Angels left fielder. Simmons followed with an RBI infield single, and Fernandez capped the big inning with a two-run homer to right field. It was Fernandez's second home run in as many days.
"I think what was a good sign for Jose was in the first inning he struck out on a good changeup from Gallardo," Scioscia said. "Next time up, he tried to throw him the same changeup, and he hit it out. It was a good adjustment for Jose."
Arcia extended the Angels' lead to 7-0 with a solo home run off Matt Moore in the sixth. He added another solo shot off Eddie Butler in the eighth to collect his first multihomer game. The 28-year-old catcher is now batting .448 with three doubles and five home runs with 17 RBIs in 10 games at Angel Stadium this season.
"I felt comfortable at the plate today," Arcia said. "I didn't try to do too much."
Angels starters have a 2.39 ERA since Aug. 28, the second-lowest mark in the Majors over that span.
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Pena got an assist from Michael Trout in the third, as the Angels' star center fielder threw out Robinson Chirinos at the plate to save a run. After the Rangers put runners on first and second with two outs, Elvis Andrus delivered a single to center field. Chirinos attempted to score from second on the play, but Trout nailed him with a two-hop throw to Arcia, ending the inning.
"It's tough with the mound from center field," Trout said. "I kind of just came up and tried to keep it low. I got a good bounce, kept it true and got him out."
• Trout nails Chirinos at the plate
The Angels will continue their seven-game homestand by hosting the Mariners in a four-game series that begins Thursday night at 7:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. For the opener, the Angels plan to rely entirely on their bullpen, which took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Rangers on Tuesday. Odrisamer Despaigne (2-2, 6.40 ERA) will get the start opposite Seattle right-hander Mike Leake (9-9, 4.11).
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.