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LAA@TEX: Hamilton's clutch single puts Rangers ahead

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers trailed by three runs early against Angels starter Jered Weaver. That's never a good thing, especially considering he leads the American League in ERA.

Texas was looking at its lead in the AL West being cut to just one game while being tied with the Angels in the loss column. But it didn't happen that way. This time the Rangers rallied for one of their biggest victories of the season.

They scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning and rallied for a 9-5 victory over the Angels on Sunday night at the Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers ended up taking two of three from the Angels after going against their top three starters: Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and Weaver.

"This was a big win for us," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "When you leave a series ahead by more games than you started, it's important. They gave us everything they had. They gave us their three best guys and we were able to take two of three. We feel really good, but they're not going to go away."

The Rangers now have a three-game lead on the Angels with 27 left to play. These two teams still have three games left with each other in Anaheim at the end of the season. But the Rangers get a day off on Monday after finishing a stretch of 17 straight games. They were 10-7 in that stretch and, when it was all over, increased their lead by one game from where it was on Aug. 11.

"We showed up today with one thing in mind and that was to play the very best baseball we could," manager Ron Washington said. "If that means coming from behind, we were willing to do that. It was a tough three games and both teams fought hard. We wanted to win and they wanted to win. I'm proud of my guys."

The Rangers had to come from behind twice. They trailed 4-1 going into the bottom of the third and, after tying the game on a two-run home run by Josh Hamilton, they trailed 5-4 after five innings. But they were still able to rally and win against Weaver.

"That's not easy to do," third baseman Michael Young said. "He's one of the best pitchers in the game. It was nice to finally put together a big inning and tack on some runs."

Weaver was 2-1 with a 1.86 ERA in four starts against the Rangers coming into the game. But he was pitching on three days' rest for the first time in his career on a night with a game-time temperature of 103 degrees. He was not nearly as effective as he had been previously against the Rangers.

"It's safe to say he didn't have his best stuff," outfielder David Murphy said. "He was missing with his location. I don't know if that was because of the short rest, the heat or he just didn't have it. He's a great pitcher and when he doesn't have his best stuff, you have to take advantage of it. We did that."

Rangers starter Colby Lewis had his own troubles. He allowed four runs in the first three innings while struggling to get his fastball down. A mechanical problem caused that and Lewis corrected it after three innings.

He did so while his team rallied to tie the game. But he still gave up a home run to Howie Kendrick to start the fifth and that gave the Angels a 5-4 lead.

"That was actually a decent pitch, a slider down and away," Lewis said. "He went down and got it. Other than that, the last three innings I felt pretty good. But the big story was these guys putting up runs. That was huge."

Weaver said his troubles had nothing to do with pitching on three days' rest.

"I felt great," Weaver said. "I might have been a little too amped up at the start."

He still had a 5-4 lead going into the seventh before Murphy led off with a double. Kinsler followed with a single to center to tie the game. That brought up Elvis Andrus and he popped up a sacrifice bunt. But the ball fell in near the first-base line, spun in the grass and did not roll foul. Instead it stayed fair for a single, moving Kinsler to second.

"That's a good offensive club," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "After he settled down, [Weaver] put up some zeros and made some pitches. We hoped he was going to get through the first three hitters with one or two outs in the seventh. On the bunt, the ball died on the line. That was as big as anything in the inning."

After left-hander Scott Downs replaced Weaver, Hamilton grounded a single through the right side. Kinsler scored the go-ahead run, beating right fielder Torii Hunter's throw to the plate, and the other runners moved up to second and third.

Young was walked intentionally and right-hander Bobby Cassevah was brought in to pitch to Craig Gentry, who had entered after Nelson Cruz left with a hamstring injury. But Washington countered with Endy Chavez and he singled up the middle to drive home two more runs to give the Rangers an 8-5 lead.

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