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07/15/07 8:55 PM ET
Teixeira's 11th-inning shot lifts Texas
Rangers DH hits go-ahead homer, RBI double in series finale
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Mark Teixeira is not normally the demonstrative sort, but he did raise his right fist in triumph when he saw the baseball just clear the right-field wall. Even if the Rangers weren't done and still needed three more outs from their standout bullpen, Teixeira's gesture was a symbol that he and his teammates knew this was hardly a routine victory. The Angels -- 49-2 when leading after seven innings -- normally don't let these games get away. They did on Sunday afternoon despite leading by two runs going into the eighth inning and Scot Shields and Francisco Rodriguez looming in their bullpen. The Rangers scored two off Shields in the eighth, then Teixeira won it with his 11th-inning home run for a 5-4 victory over the Angels at Angel Stadium. The victory allowed the Rangers to avoid being swept for the second time this season by the Angels. "Extra innings ... we fought hard today," Teixeira said. "I loved the way we battled back, down 4-2. With Shields and K-Rod you don't expect to win many of those games, but we got some big hits and our relievers were incredible." "Wow ... a big one there," shortstop Michael Young said. "Playing the Angels deep in the game and they've got the lead, it's tough, especially in their ballpark. But we kept fighting and it paid off." Teixeira also had a big hit in the eighth inning, a two-out double off Shields that scored Ramon Vazquez to make it 4-3. Marlon Byrd then doubled to left-center to bring home Teixeira. "That's Mark Teixeira," manager Ron Washington said. "He's a presence. That's what he brings." The home run was Teixeira's first since missing 27 games because of a strained quadriceps muscle, and he was 4-for-12 with three doubles and a homer in the series after being activated off the disabled list on Friday. "I feel great," Teixeira said. "I knew I was going to feel good with all the drills I was doing while I was out to make sure I didn't lose any timing. I didn't think I would lose much when I came back, and I didn't." Teixeira's home run made a winner out of C.J. Wilson, who retired the last batter in the bottom of the 10th inning, and Eric Gagne retired the side in order in the 11th to get his 13th save. But there was no doubt who the pitching star was in this game. The Rangers used six pitchers and nobody was better than right-hander Joaquin Benoit. "He was outstanding," Washington said. "He more or less won the game for us." He did so by getting the Rangers out of a bases-loaded, one-out mess in the bottom of the eighth inning. He came in with the game tied and the Angels needing one run to hand Rodriguez a lead going into the ninth. The Angels are 49-0 this season when leading after eight innings, but Benoit didn't let it get to that point. Instead, he got pinch-hitter Maicer Izturis and catcher Jeff Mathis to pop out to end the threat. "If I said I was thinking about getting out of that inning without a run scoring, I'd be lying to you," Benoit said. "I was just trying to get a ground ball or a strike out." The popouts were enough, especially considering the Angels still used Rodriguez for both the ninth and the 10th innings and he retired six straight hitters. But Benoit was his equal, retiring all eight hitters he faced before Wilson took over with two out in the 10th. Wilson gave the Rangers one anxious moment when he gave up a single to Garret Anderson, then threw a wild pitch to move the winning run to second base. But Vazquez, playing second base on Sunday, snagged Casey Kotchman's line drive to end the threat. That set the stage for Teixeira, and he worked the count full before driving one over the right-field wall for a fist-raising home run. "It's like I've always said, this team has character," Washington said. "We're always going to play nine innings. We've been doing that all year, we just weren't getting the W's. Now we're starting to get the W's. We persevered today. We could have easily laid down but we kept fighting."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.