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09/01/07 8:37 PM ET
Volquez rewarded in long road back
Right-hander wins debut; Byrd finishes triple shy of cycle
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- The Rangers certainly could have found an easier way to ease Edinson Volquez back into the Major Leagues. Instead he had to walk out to the mound on the hottest day of the year and go against the team with the best record in the Major Leagues as well as a starting pitcher with the second lowest ERA in the American League. The Rangers had also lost 21 of their last 25 games here. If the Rangers are intent on getting a measure of Volquez's maturity and composure on the mound, a game like this was certainly a good way to do it. In the end, Volquez measured out well under the circumstances. He held the Los Angeles Angels to three runs over five innings and came away with his second Major League victory after the Rangers held on to a 7-6 victory at Angel Stadium Saturday. The game time temperature was 99 degrees, the highest for a game in Anaheim this time of year. It was 100 degrees when Volquez threw his 94th and last pitch to strike out Casey Kotchman at the end of the fifth inning. "He got thrown into the fire and it didn't faze him one bit," Rangers shortstop Michael Young said. Volquez, after retiring the side in the first inning, allowed seven hits, walked two and hit a batter over the next four innings but limited the damage by striking out four and holding the Angels to 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position. "I'm happy," Volquez said. "I'm happy I won and I'm happy I'm back in the big leagues. If I can get a couple of more wins like that I'll be fine." The Angels got single runs in the second, fourth and fifth but Volquez stayed away from a big inning by stranding two runners on base each time. That seemed to impress manager Ron Washington more than anything. "Usually, from what I understand, when that stuff happened in the past, an explosion would happen," Washington said. "But he kept his composure." That has not always been the case for Volquez. In his previous 14 Major League games, opponents hit .345 off him with runners in scoring position and .435 in those situations with two outs. On Saturday afternoon, he didn't fall apart in those situations. "We've seen him before," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's a young kid with a power arm trying to find himself. We had him on the ropes a couple of times and he made some pitches to get out of it." Volquez was able to mix in his changeup and his curveball better than he has in the past but also was able to overpower the Angels with a live fastball thrown in the right place. Gary Matthews Jr. came up to the plate with two on and two out in the fourth and Volquez blew him away with three straight fastballs. "If you've got good stuff and you throw it in the strike zone, good things happen," Washington said. "With the stuff he's got, he can beat anybody if he finds the strike zone." The Rangers made it easier for Volquez by knocking out Kelvim Escobar in the third inning. Escobar came into the game with a 2.77 ERA, second lowest in the league, but was gone after allowing two runs in the second inning and three more in the third. He was gone after 2 2/3 innings, his second shortest outing of the season, and had a four-game winning streak snapped. "Escobar is a great pitcher having a great year," Young said. "We just did a good job seeing pitches and took some walks. It was one of those days. The guy is still having an incredible year. You never know, his next start he may go out and throw eight shutout innings." David Murphy gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead with a two-run double in the second and Brad Wilkerson had a two-run double in the third. Jarrod Saltalamacchia brought him home with an RBI single. Marlon Byrd, who had three hits on the afternoon, hit a home run in the fourth. Volquez left with a 6-3 lead and the Rangers, getting three scoreless innings from reliever Jamey Wright, led 7-3 going into the ninth. Garret Anderson hit a three-run home run off Rangers closer C.J. Wilson in the bottom of the ninth to make it 7-6. But Wilson was able to get the next two batters to fly out to end the game and the Rangers won for only the fifth time in their last 26 games at Angel Stadium. "The Angels don't quit," Washington said. "You can't rest until you get that 27th out. I wish we would have scored 12 runs today but fortunately seven was enough."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.