Choo, with his team trailing 2-0, executed his plan. He swung at a first-pitch sinker and crushed it over the center-field fence for the Rangers' first home run in eight days. They didn't have to wait nearly as long for the next one.
Alex Rios added a two-run home run later in the inning as the Rangers used the seldom-seen long ball to rally for a 5-2 victory over the Angels in the first of a three-game series. The win snapped the Rangers four-game losing streak.
The Rangers had gone 62 innings and 249 plate appearances since their last home run before Choo went deep. They now have 16 in 29 games.
"I hadn't noticed that," Rios said. "We're just focused on getting hot as a team. I think we're getting closer. You see guys improving and doing more stuff. We're getting there."
Rangers starter Colby Lewis earned his second victory in four starts this season, holding the Angels to two runs in 5 2/3 innings. Both runs scored on a pair of two-out singles, but Lewis is now 2-1 with a 4.22 ERA since he returned to the Major Leagues. Manager Ron Washington said it was his best outing yet.
"He had some crispness on his fastball and his breaking ball was the old Colby breaking ball," Washington said. "He had a good changeup and moved the ball around in the zone. It was nice to see him go out there and throw like Colby of old."
"He made some good pitches in some tough spots," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It looked like he had both sides of the plate working and had a little cut to his fastball that he used. He knows what he's doing out there, and he pitched around some trouble and got some outs."
Lewis, protecting a one-run lead, was hoping to go at least six innings for the first time since his his return. But he left after issuing a two-out walk to Collin Cowgill in the sixth. The Angels had already stolen three bases because Lewis was struggling to hold baserunners so Washington brought in left-hander Aaron Poreda to face left-handed hitter J.B. Shuck.
"I was able to throw my fastball where I wanted and had command of a lot of pitches," Lewis said. "My changeup was good. I thought I was going to get deep in the count, my pitch count was low, but I ran into that dumb two-out walk."
Poreda retired Shuck on a popup to end the inning. He was the first of five relievers needed to nail down the final 10 outs. Jason Frasor, Neal Cotts and Alexi Ogando followed before Joakim Soria retired the side in order in the ninth for his seventh save.
"We pieced it together," said Frasor, who had a big seventh-inning strikeout of Albert Pujols. "Everybody did their jobs and stranded each others runners. I think I was the only one to start an inning except Joakim in the ninth. A great night for the bullpen."
The Rangers trailed 2-0 going into the top of the sixth. Santiago had allowed three singles and a walk, and had retired seven straight hitters going into the inning. Then Choo came through on the first-pitch sinker to get the Rangers on the scoreboard. They had scored just four runs in their previous 37 innings.
Santiago retired the next two hitters but Prince Fielder reached on an infield single and Rios followed with his second home run of the season. His first was on Opening Day. This was only the fourth time this season the Rangers have hit two home runs in a game.
"We just needed to string something together and we finally did," Washington said.
The Rangers added two more in the seventh after Leonys Martin led off with a single and Michael Choice drew a walk while trying to drop a sacrifice bunt. Right-handed reliever Kevin Jepsen took over and struck out J.P. Arencibia. But Choo singled to right-center, scoring Martin and moving Choo to third.
Elvis Andrus then hit a high chopper to third baseman Ian Stewart, who went home trying to get Choice. But Choice beat the throw to make it 5-2. Choo had to leave the game in the bottom of the inning with soreness in his left ankle.