Angels starter Joe Saunders got through five challenging innings, giving up four runs (two earned) on 10 hits, making quality pitches when he needed them to prevent the Rangers from busting it open.Saunders fell behind by two runs in the second, but it could have been worse. He left the bases loaded when he retired Sosa on a roller to shortstop, the Rangers having scored twice on four singles. The Angels quickly tied it when Maicer Izturis walked, Kendry Morales doubled and Kendrick's double to the right-center gap drove both men home. Consecutive singles by Izturis, Morales and Casey Kotchman produced a 3-2 cushion for Saunders in the fourth. But the Rangers regained the lead in the fifth when Guerrero misjudged a two-out fly ball by Nelson Cruz with two runners on, the ball bounding off his glove for a three-base error. Chris Bootcheck erased a runner inherited from Saunders in the sixth when he cooled off Ian Kinsler (three hits) with a double-play grounder and struck out Gerald Laird. With wife Jina expecting their first child in October, Bootcheck will have another mouth to feed -- and he is pitching like a man on a mission with a 1.69 ERA across his past 12 outings, covering 21 1/3 innings. A non-roster invitee who made the club after a strong Spring Training showing, Bootcheck has been an unsung stalwart in middle relief all season. He struck out two of the three men he faced in Seattle on Wednesday behind Jered Weaver, finishing the sweep of the reeling Mariners. Cruz's seventh homer of the season with one out in the eighth off Justin Speier -- who'd retired the first four men he faced -- made it a one-run game. When Jarrod Saltalamacchia followed with a ringing double, his second hit, Scioscia summoned Scot Shields. Back in a groove after his recent struggles, Shields retired pinch-hitter Frank Catalonotto on a grounder and Kinsler on a popup, handing a one-run advantage over to K-Rod. Michael Young's third single and steal put him in position to score when Sosa reached out and flared a single to right. A sprawling stab by Izturis at third on Marlon Byrd's grounder headed toward left field got an out on a force before Jason Botts struck out to end the ninth. After Oliver worked a perfect 10th, Anderson walked and was bunted to second by Izturis. An intentional walk to Morales was followed by Kotchman's force, bringing Kendrick to the plate with two outs. The second baseman delivered, and the Angels owned the best record in the game on Sept. 1.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less