ANAHEIM, Calif. — Martin Perez allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings, and Elvis Andrus had a two-run triple on a scary play in a three-run fifth inning as the Rangers beat the Angels 5-2 to open a three-game series.
Adrian Beltre homered and Jurickson Profar had an RBI single in a two-run sixth as the Rangers moved within two games of first-place Oakland in the American League West and took a half-game lead over Cleveland for the second wild-card entry into the playoffs.
But the Rangers had to endure some tense moments in the seventh and eighth innings before closing out their seventh win in the past eight games and their first win with out Nelson Cruz, who was suspended 50 games Monday afternoon for taking performance-enhancing drugs.
The Angels scored an early run against Perez following a one-out single by Mike Trout. Two batters later, Mark Trumbo lofted a towering flyball into the right-field corner, where David Murphy misjudged it and saw it fall for an RBI double.
Jerome Williams carried the 1-0 lead into the fifth and was the verge of escaping the inning after the Rangers loaded the bases with one out. Williams struck out Leonys Martin, but uncorked a wild pitch on the next pitch to allow Murphy to score the tying run.
Andrus followed with a popup that chased second baseman Howie Kendrick into shallow right field. He gloved the ball, but right fielder Collin Cowgill slid into him and the ball came free as Kendrick hit the ground.
Andrus went to third as both runners scored, and Kendrick left the game with a hyperextended left knee. Beltre started the sixth with his 24th homer of the season, and Profar knocked in Murphy four batter later.
Perez finally ran into trouble in the seventh, which started with a double by Erick Aybar followed by a walk to Chris Nelson. Chris Iannetta struck out, but Perez walked J.B. Shuck to load the bases.
Jason Frasor entered to get Cowgill on a fielder’s choice that pushed home Aybar, then walked Trout to fill the bases for Kole Calhoun. The pinch-hitter smacked a line drive to right, but Murphy grabbed it easily to end the threat.
A Beltre error to start the eighth and another shaky play Murphy with two outs put Neal Cotts in a bind in the eighth. He then walked Iannetta before Shuck sent a flyball to right field that Murphy caught at the wall.
Joe Nathan, though, pitched around a one-out walk to take care of the Angels in the ninth.
-- Jeff Wilson