Hamels wins pair of duels with Angels sluggers

Navigates around Trout & Pujols twice, stretches win streak

Hamels wins pair of duels with Angels sluggers

ANAHEIM -- Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels won two big confrontations against Angels sluggers Mike Trout and Albert Pujols on Saturday night, and now is enjoying the longest winning streak of his career.

Hamels' battles against those two in the first and sixth innings turned out to be the biggest outs in a 4-1 victory over the Angels. The Rangers have now won 12 straight regular-season games with Hamels on the mound going back to last year.

He is 9-0 in those 12 games, and his winning streak was extended because of his ability to handle Trout and Pujols with runners on base.

"It was most critical for him, most critical for anybody going through this lineup," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He seemed to have his best stuff going through that part of the lineup."

"Yeah, when you look at those two guys, they are two of the best players in baseball," Hamels said. "Pujols has been one of the best players since I came up, and we've seen Trout the past few years. You have to make quality pitches and hope they get themselves out. They can do some damage."

Hamels, leading 1-0, had a rough start in the first as Yunel Escobar led off with a single and Craig Gentry walked. That put runners on first and second with Trout and Pujols coming up next.

Hamels, on a full-count fastball, got Trout on a high chopper to first baseman Mitch Moreland, moving the runners to second and third. Pujols, with the infield back, followed with a grounder to shortstop Elvis Andrus. Escobar scored as Andrus threw to third to get Gentry trying to advance. Hamels ended the inning with limited damage by getting C.J. Cron on a grounder back to the mound.

The Rangers took a 2-1 lead on a fourth-inning home run by third baseman Adrian Beltre, but Hamels again ran into trouble with Escobar and Gentry in the sixth. This time Escobar walked with one out and Gentry reached on an infield single, leaving Hamels once again to deal with Trout and Pujols.

"They are the best in the game for a reason," Hamels said. "They'll pick up on patterns and location so if you make a mistake, they'll make you pay. So you have to stay off the middle of the plate, mix your pitches and not get in any pattern."

This time Trout forced Escobar with a grounder to Beltre at third and Pujols popped out to end the inning.

"When the guys set the table, he made some tough pitches to Trouty and AP to get out of some jams," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "You have to tip your cap a little bit to Hamels. He worked around some trouble, and ended up getting a win."

That was it as Hamels was done after six innings and 95 pitches. The Rangers then sent out Keone Kela, Sam Dyson and Shawn Tolleson for three scoreless innings to finish it off.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.