ANAHEIM, Calif. – Juan Rivera homered and drove in four runs, Erick Aybar also went deep, and the Los Angeles Angels handed Tommy Hunter his first loss of the season with a 9-7 victory over the AL West-leading Texas Rangers on Friday night.
Ervin Santana (10-7) beat the Rangers for the second time in seven days despite one of his worst outings of the season. The right-hander allowed seven runs — four earned — and 10 hits over six innings with four strikeouts.
Trevor Bell and Fernando Rodney both pitched a scoreless inning of relief and Brian Fuentes worked a perfect ninth for his 19th save in 23 attempts, helping snap the Angels' four-game losing streak.
The victory put the Angels back into second place in the division, but they trail the Rangers by eight games. It was the second time this season the Angels won after trailing by as many as five runs. They did it on May 30, in a 9-7 win against Seattle, when Howie Kendrick led the comeback with two home runs — including a two-run shot in the ninth.
Hunter (8-1) was charged with eight runs and eight hits in three-plus innings, six days after beating the Angels 6-4 at Texas. The right-hander was staked to leads of 5-0 and 7-4 in the rematch, but was pulled in the fourth after giving up hits to his first four batters.
Rivera hit an RBI single, and No. 9 hitter Mike Napoli followed with a run-scoring double that chased Hunter and sliced the margin to 7-6. Aybar tied the score with a sacrifice fly on Matt Harrison's first pitch, and Maicer Izturis put the Angels in front with an RBI single.
That closed the books on Hunter, whose ERA increased a full run to 3.31 in 11 starts this season. Bobby Abreu capped the scoring with a two-out RBI double in the sixth.
The Rangers scored in each of the first four innings, including three unearned runs in the first after shortstop Aybar's throwing error. Nelson Cruz extended his hitting streak to 18 games in the fourth with his 15th homer, giving Texas a 7-4 lead.
Elvin Andrus scored on a double by AL batting leader Josh Hamilton, who came in 2 for 18 against Santana, and David Murphy delivered two more with a two-out single.
Vladimir Guerrero, who spent the previous six seasons with the Angels before signing with the Rangers as a free agent in January, increased the margin to 5-0 in the second with a two-out single. But the Halos stormed back in the bottom half with Rivera's three-run homer and Aybar's two-out solo shot.
Guerrero, a nine-time All-Star whose contract with the Rangers guarantees him $6.5 million and includes a mutual option for 2011, is 13 for 39 with four homers and 11 RBIs against his former team this season. On June 30 at Anaheim, the 2004 AL MVP was 4 for 4 with a grand slam and five RBIs in a 6-4 win.
NOTES: This was the fourth time in five starts Hunter allowed two home runs. ... RHP Rich Harden, on the DL since June 12 because of a strained left gluteus muscle, is expected to be activated on Saturday to start for Texas against former Oakland A's teammate Dan Haren. The Rangers' scheduled starter, Scott Feldman, will work out of the bullpen after going 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA in his last six starts. "Harden is ready to go, so we had to make a decision," manager Ron Washington said. "We told him he had to go down to Triple-A and dominate — and in his last start, he dominated. So we're going to give him the ball tomorrow."