Vlad shines but loses in Anaheim return
Outfielder homers but former Angels reliever Oliver stumbles
ANAHEIM -- It was a nice homecoming for Rangers slugger Vladimir Guerrero, who received a standing ovation from the crowd at Angel Stadium before his first at-bat and hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning.
But the return to Anaheim wasn't as kind to former Angels reliever Darren Oliver, who allowed a crucial three-run double to Bobby Abreu in the sixth inning of the Rangers' 6-5 loss to the Angels on Tuesday.
The three-run double by Abreu against his former teammate from last season was part of a tough inning for the Rangers, as they allowed four runs in the frame, all coming with two outs.
"We had a two out situation there in the sixth with no one on and they put up four on us," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "That big inning was our downfall right there."
The inning started innocently enough with two quick outs with right-hander Scott Feldman on the mound before it all unraveled with a single from Kevin Frandsen, who then reached second base on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Jeff Mathis before Erick Aybar singled to knock Feldman out of the game.
"I got off to a good start, but that sixth inning they strung together some good hits," said Feldman, who allowed five runs on nine hits over 5 2/3 innings. "They battled."
Oliver, who spent three years in Anaheim before joining the Rangers this season, relieved Feldman and walked Howard Kendrick to load the bases. Abreu then made Oliver pay when he laced a 3-2 curveball down the right-field line for a three-run double to give the Angels a 6-3 lead.
"I threw a curveball 3-2 and it kind of hung a little bit," Oliver said. "He did what he's supposed to do with it. He's tough, man. You really have to make your pitches with him."
Washington defended his decision to use Oliver in the lefty-on-lefty matchup, especially because Oliver entered with a 1.27 ERA and had retired 25 of 27 hitters coming in with eight straight scoreless appearances.
"I had the right person on the mound," Washington said. "I wasn't cringing. I thought Darren Oliver could get him, but he just didn't make the pitch, and you have to give Bobby credit for staying in there and getting the big hit."
Guerrero, who spent six highly productive years with the Angels, quickly made it close with a two-run homer off Kevin Jepsen in the top of the seventh for his 16th homer, which is one more than he hit last season with the Angels.
It was all part of a big day for Guerrero, who returned to Anaheim for the first time since joining the Rangers and received a big ovation from the crowd of 38,514 at Angel Stadium before his first at-bat.
"It was a very nice moment," Washington said. "I thought they treated him with a great deal of respect. He's done great things with the Anaheim Angels, and they showed him respect. I got chills."
Guerrero also hit a sacrifice fly in the third inning and went 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
"It was Vlad," Washington said of Guerrero's performance. "He got us a two-runner straight to center field against Jepsen with two strikes. It put us within one run, and the next three innings we fought pretty good and had opportunities but just didn't deliver."
The Rangers couldn't come back despite loading the bases with two outs in the eighth against Fernando Rodney with Michael Young grounding out to shortstop to end the inning and the threat.
But the biggest threat actually came with one out and runners at first and second when Julio Borbon lifted a ball into right-center field for what looked like a two-run double before nine-time Gold Glover Torii Hunter tracked the ball down on the dead run for the out.
"It just stayed up there, man" Borbon said.
Offensively, the Rangers got on the scoreboard early against right-hander Joel Pineiro with a solo homer by Ian Kinsler before adding another run in the third on the sacrifice fly by Guerrero.
Josh Hamilton, who extended his career-long hit streak to 22 games with a single in the third inning and set the club record with 48 hits this month, drove home a run in the fifth on an RBI groundout.
But the Rangers went down quietly in the ninth inning against closer Brian Fuentes, who struck out Kinsler and Guerrero before getting Hamilton to ground out to end the game. It marked just the second loss for the Rangers in their past 15 games.
"They're playing great baseball," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, "and you have to play well in a lot of areas to beat them."
And with the loss, the Rangers saw their lead in the AL West fall to 3 1/2 games over the second-place Angels with two games left in the three-game set in Anaheim.
"We still have a chance to win the series," Washington said. "They just got the first one. We just have to bounce back tomorrow."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.