A.J. Pierzynski hit a solo home run in the ninth inning to lead the Texas Rangers in a 7-6 win over the LA Angels of Anaheim to open a three-game set on Monday.
Pierzynski drove in two runs while Elvis Andrus went 3-for-5 with a run scored for the Rangers, who have won four straight. Mitch Moreland added three hits and an RBI and David Murphy scored twice in the win.
"I was just trying to get the bat on the barrel. I didn't think I got enough of it but fortunately it did just get over the wall," Pierzynski said of his homer.
Derek Holland was tagged for six runs on six hits with four walks and seven strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. Tanner Scheppers (2-0) gave up just one hit over two innings to get the win and Joe Nathan pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up his sixth save of the season.
Howie Kendrick drove in two runs and scored twice while Josh Hamilton had a 4- for-4 game with two runs scored for the Angels, who were coming off a three- game sweep of the Detroit Tigers.
Joe Blanton gave up four runs on 12 hits in six-plus innings while Ernesto Frieri (0-1) took the loss due to Pierzynski's home run.
"I made my pitch," Frieri said of Pierzynski's homer. "It was a little bit up, outside, but yeah, I wanted to go outside, maybe a little bit low. But like I said, he made a good swing on the ball and it went out."
Trailing by three runs in the seventh, the Rangers tied the game. The first three batters reached base to load the bases and Pierzynski singled in one with a hit to left. Nelson Cruz then hit a grounder to short that saw a force out at second, but he beat the relay throw to first and another run scored. Scott Downs then took over on the mound and Jeff Baker hit a high chopper that Downs was unable to field and Adrian Beltre crossed the plate to tie the game.
Scheppers worked around a two-out single in the seventh then retired the Angels in order in the eighth.
With two outs in the ninth and Frieri on the mound, Pierzynski clubbed the first pitch he saw over the right field wall for his fourth home run of the season and a 7-6 lead.
Nathan came on to close the game and gave up a leadoff single to Peter Bourjos, but then set the next three batters down, striking out Mark Trumbo to pick up his sixth save of the year.
The Rangers struck in the top of the first as back-to-back singles by Ian Kinsler and Andrus was followed by grounder from Lance Berkman that saw Andrus forced out at second, but the throw to first wasn't handled by Blanton and Kinsler scored for a 1-0 lead.
In the second, three consecutive one-out singles scored a run as Leonys Martin drove in Murphy for a 2-0 advantage.
The Angels, though, went on top in the fourth inning. Trumbo walked to lead off and Hamilton followed with a single. Kendrick's double to center plated both runners and he moved to third on a wild pitch. Chris Iannetta's sac fly gave the team a 3-2 lead.
Texas tied the game in the sixth as Murphy hit a one-out double and Moreland followed with an RBI two-bagger, but the Angels answered with three in the home portion.
With one out, Hamilton and Kendrick singled and Iannetta later doubled home Hamilton. After Jason Frasor took the mound, Luis Jimenez smacked a single to center for a 6-3 lead.
Before the game, the Angels placed pitcher Tommy Hanson on the bereavement list and recalled pitcher David Carpenter from Salt Lake. Hanson will miss his scheduled start in the series finale on Wednesday ... Texas took two of three from Anaheim at home at the beginning of April ... Alexi Ogando pitches for Texas on Tuesday while Jason Vargas takes the mound for the Angels.