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LAA@TEX: Andrus hits a solo shot in the first

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have dealt with injuries to key players, and outfielder Julio Borbon may need to be added to that list now. They were dealt the bad blow of a rainout washing away a seven-run lead on Wednesday.

There have also been some nice surprises 38 games into the season, and No. 1 on that list is reliever turned starter Alexi Ogando.

Ogando has been the find of the season for the Rangers, and that only feels like more of a certainty after the Dominican right-hander shut down the first-place Angels, 4-1, on Friday night before 45,995 fans at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

The Rangers moved within a half-game of the Angels in the American League West using the pitching of Ogando and the clutch hitting of shortstop Elvis Andrus, who had a first-inning home run and an RBI single in the fifth.

Ogando outdueled one of the top pitchers in the league, Jered Weaver, who just last month threw a complete game against the Rangers. Weaver is a talented right-hander with an array of pitches who won his first six games of the season.

Ogando is 4-0 on the season, and he's beginning to look even more like a complete pitcher after allowing the Angels just a run in 6 1/3 innings. The fastball and slider have always been there -- the Rangers learned about that last season when Ogando gave them a stellar effort out of the bullpen with a 1.30 ERA in 44 games.

Ogando mixed in his changeup more on Friday night, and that pitch could make him even more dangerous. He threw it on his third pitch of the game, a 1-1 pitch to Erick Aybar, and got a swing and miss. A slider came next for a strikeout.

Ogando threw his changeup later in the game to Aybar after giving up a home run to him in the third, once again on 1-1 pitch and got a foul ball. He then struck out Aybar once again on his devastating slider.

The changeup can be the pitch that solidifies the 27-year-old Ogando as a starting pitcher in the Major Leagues.

"I don't know that I'm a dominant pitcher yet," Ogando said. "All my pitches have been working. I just have to keep working and I'll get better. I know I can do my job out there."

Ogando made an impression on the Angels, who struck out five times and drew only one walk against him.

"He threw real well," Angels catcher Hank Conger said. "It's the first time I've seen him pitch. He's got a good fastball, and his breaking ball is kind of a slurve. He also showed a good changeup. He made pitches when he needed to."

Ogando was on his game after missing a start and 10 days total due to a blister on his right index finger. He lasted 6 1/3 innings, allowing five hits.

Ogando's toughest spot came in the sixth, when he allowed back-to-back one-out singles to Bobby Abreu and Maicer Izturis. After a visit to the mound by pitching coach Mike Maddux, Ogando got Torii Hunter to fly out to left and Howard Kendrick to ground out to short.

Ogando's blister did start acting up a little bit in the sixth, although he said after the game he really didn't feel it. Manager Ron Washington said after the game he had Arthur Rhodes warming up in the sixth just in case the blister bothered Ogando. But Washington finally took his starter out of the game with a runner on in the seventh because the Angels were starting to make solid contact against Ogando.

"The bats tell you," Washington said. "They were starting to center it up on him."

The Rangers were able to hit enough balls hard to hand Weaver his third straight loss. It was a significant win for the Rangers considering how Weaver has dominated them over the years. Weaver came into Friday with three straight wins against Texas, including a complete-game shutout the last time the Angels were in Arlington on April 20.

Andrus changed the Rangers' luck against Weaver in the bottom of the first. After Borbon struck out to start the game, Andrus hit the first pitch for his second home run of the season, just clearing the left-field fence.

Andrus said he got a pitch right down the middle and was able to handle it.

"He's always pitched me with a lot of aggressiveness," Andrus said. "He throws me a lot of strikes. He knows I don't swing at bad pitches. I just wanted to stay on top of it and make good contact there."

The Rangers added another run in the fourth as Ian Kinsler and Michael Young led off the inning with consecutive doubles for a 2-1 lead.

Andrus was at it again in the fifth. He lined a two-out single up the middle, scoring Mike Napoli, who had walked to start the inning, for a 3-1 lead.

Adrian Beltre added a solo home run in the sixth inning, his second in as many games.

About the only bad news for the Rangers was another injury, this one to Borbon, who strained his left hamstring in the seventh inning running down a Conger popout.

Borbon could make it all three Opening Day outfielders on the disabled list, joining Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz. That's a depressing trend for the Rangers.

But at least the surprising Ogando is doing a little to offset the bad stuff.

"That changeup, it's starting to make it happen," Andrus said. "We just need him to stay healthy." Comments