Rangers make big plays late to top Angels

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers wasted chance after chance for six innings, reverting back to a trend that haunted them last season.

One swing by Adrian Beltre, a stolen base by Craig Gentry and a clutch hit by Ian Kinsler said this is a new year. At least for one day.

The Rangers' 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels in the home opener Friday afternoon got off to a frustrating start. The Rangers were leaving runners on base about as often as Josh Hamilton was getting booed -- which was a lot. The boos were loud, and the Rangers' bats were quiet.

They had left eight men on base through six innings, were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and failed to score in two innings when productive outs would have scored runs.

Enter the firm of Beltre, Gentry and Kinsler.

Pick the key moment in the game: Beltre's home run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the score at 2. Gentry's stolen base in the bottom of the eighth against lefty Scott Downs, who does a good job holding runners. Kinsler's two-out single to right field to score Gentry and give the Rangers a 3-2 lead.

They all mattered, and the Rangers came back to beat a division rival to move to 3-1 on the season.

"We won," Beltre said. "That's all we care about it."

The Rangers don't have an eighth-inning rally if Beltre doesn't break through against Angels reliever Garrett Richards. The right-hander was rolling with two routine ground-ball outs by Elvis Andrus and Lance Berkman to start the inning. Beltre went up looking for a pitch up in the strike zone. He swung through a slider and a cutter to fall behind 0-2. He got the count to 1-2 and then Richards kept a cutter up. Beltre pounced on it and ripped a line drive that barely carried over the left-field fence.

"I was blowing it, hoping it would go over the fence," Beltre said. "But I didn't know."

After reliever Tanner Scheppers retired the Angels in order in the top of the eighth, the Rangers carried the momentum from Beltre's home run into the bottom of the inning.

Gentry had a one-out bloop single to right field and was able to swipe second base easily.

"We needed a guy in scoring position," Gentry said. "I got a good read and a good pitch to run on."

That left the heroics to Kinsler. Downs got behind in the count 2-0 and Kinsler came through with a sharp single to right. Kinsler said he was only trying to find a hole after failing to get a two-out hit in the sixth inning.

"I'm not trying to hit the ball the other way," Kinsler said. "I'm a pull hitter. I'm not going to go away from my strength. A time like that I'm just trying to get a hit. I'm just trying to hit a ball hard, hit a ball on a line and work the middle of the field. It just happened the ball went through the right side of the infield."

Gentry was able to fly around around third base and beat a one-hop throw from Hamilton for the eventual game-winning run.

"Gentry's speed, he's one of the fastest guys in the game," Kinsler said. "It showed right there on both plays, the play to get to second and the play to score on the base hit. It's big that we have that guy on this team at the bottom of the order."