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Angels beat Rangers, close A's deficit to five in West

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Jose Molina hit a rare home run, then
had an up-close view of why that's all the offense the Los Angeles
Angels needed.

The part-time catcher's two-run homer in the fifth inning was
enough for the Angels in a 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on
Thursday night, when three relievers combined for five shutout
innings after an injury forced starter Kelvim Escobar to leave the
game.

"I don't care about homers, base hits or whatever. I care more
about the wins," said Molina, who has four homers in 71 games this
season and 15 in 316 career games. "We are in this situation, we
need wins. If that helped, I'll take it any time."

The Angels (79-68), a season-high 11 games over .500, won for
the ninth time in 12 games to move within five games of AL
West-leading Oakland. Seven of their last 10 games are against the
Athletics.

Escobar left after four innings with tendinitis in his left knee
that he said has bothered him all season. The right-hander expected
to have an MRI on Friday.

"My last 15-20 games, I'd feel it some times, and it'd get
better," Escobar said. "Tonight, it got worse. It didn't get
better."

Los Angeles and Texas played for the first time since Aug. 16,
when there were three hit batters, a bench-clearing brawl and four
ejections at the end of a contentious series between the AL West
rivals. Both managers and five players (three Angels, two Rangers)
were suspended the following day.

Rangers leadoff hitter Gary Matthews Jr. was hit by a pitch in
the first inning Thursday night by Escobar. After Matthews was hit
on the upper leg, there were no other pitches that came close to
hitting batters.

"That was more ironic than anything," Rangers manager Buck
Showalter said. "He wasn't trying to throw at anybody. That was an
accident, definitely."

Hector Carrasco (6-3) replaced Escobar to start the fifth, and
pitched 2 2-3 scoreless innings with three strikeouts and one walk.
After Scot Shields pitched an inning, Francisco Rodriguez got the
last four outs for his major league-leading 42nd save in 45
chances.

"Their bullpen is top shelf," Rangers shortstop Michael Young
said. "Our pitchers did a great job, but one home run and that was
the ball game."

Texas rookie Edinson Volquez (1-5) lost his fourth straight
start despite allowing only two runs and six hits over five
innings. He struck out two with no walks.

Rodriguez took over after Shields walked two in the eighth. The
closer got out of that jam by striking out Ian Kinsler, then struck
out the first two batters in a perfect ninth.

"The bottom line is we need to start scoring runs," Angels
manager Mike Scioscia said. "We are not going to be able to keep
tapping into the resources of (the bullpen). ... There's a lot
riding game to game and we're going to need our bullpen intact if
we're going to make the run we hope to."

Five of the Angels' last six games have been decided by one run.
They haven't scored more than four runs in that stretch, but won
three games.

Mark DeRosa's RBI single in the fourth gave Texas a 1-0 lead.

Adam Kennedy, who charged Scott Feldman in the ninth inning of
the last game to start the brawl, had a one-out single in the fifth
and scored on Molina's homer.

Game notes
Angels RF Vladimir Guerrero was 0-for-4, the first time in
25 career games at Texas he didn't have a hit. Guerrero had hits in
his first 44 games against the Rangers before going hitless in a
game at home Aug. 5. ... Feldman served the final game of his
six-game suspension Thursday night. ... Los Angeles started its
final road trip of the season, nine games over 11 days. ... Texas
played the first game of a 10-game homestand before it closes the
season on the road. The Rangers are 35-37 at home.