Angels outmuscle Rangers to deny sweep

Angels outmuscle Rangers to deny sweep

ANAHEIM -- The series finale between the Angels and first-place Rangers turned into a home run derby on Sunday afternoon at Angel Stadium, with the Halos coming out on top with a 3-2 win to avoid a sweep.

For the Rangers, the loss reduced their lead over the Indians for the best record in the American League to one game. The league's best record guarantees home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Texas' magic number to clinch the AL West is 10 games over the Astros.

Both teams traded solo home runs through six innings. Colby Lewis, making his first start with the Rangers since June 21, allowed a homer to leadoff man Yunel Escobar on his third pitch. Escobar's blast was the first leadoff homer for the Angels this year and the eighth of Escobar's career. It was Escobar's first home run since April 27.

Escobar's leadoff homer

Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons unloaded against Lewis leading off the bottom of the second and again in the sixth, which proved to be the difference in the game.

"I'm not a homer hitter, but I'm taking better swings lately," said Simmons, who has five extra-base hits during his eight-game hit streak. "I've been feeling really, really good lately with my swing and ran into a couple today."

Adrian Beltre homered twice off Angels starter Jered Weaver, leading off the top of the second and then with two outs in the sixth.

Weaver earned the win to improve to 11-11, his third straight winning decision. The veteran recorded a season-high eight strikeouts and walked two over 6 2/3 innings. Weaver allowed two singles in addition to Beltre's pair of homers.

"He kept our guys off balance and never gave us very many good swings at anything," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "It was two veteran pitchers going against each other, and we just didn't muster up enough offense."

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Simmons shows power:
Simmons had a rare show of power with his third multi-homer game of his career and first of the season. The shortstop entered Sunday with one home run on the season before going deep in his first at-bat, a span of 329 plate appearances between homers.

Simmons talks about the win

"Whenever they come for me, I'm happy," Simmons said. "But, yeah, after a while, you're like, 'Well, I can still do this." 

Colby's comeback: Lewis was reinstated from the disabled list on Sunday morning and made his first start since being diagnosed with a Grade 2 lat strain. Lewis went 5 1/3 innings and was removed after giving up the second home run to Simmons. Lewis was charged with three earned runs on seven hits, taking his second loss of the season.

"I feel great," Lewis said. "My stuff was, for the most part, really, really sharp today. I feel like I left some fastballs in the middle of the zone, and I can get all of that stuff sharpened up a little more." More >

Lewis' solid start in DL return

Weaver wows crowd: Weaver walked off to a standing ovation with two outs in the seventh as Angels fans showed their appreciation for his strong start and decorated career. After the game, Weaver opened up a bit about his uncertain future.

"I've never been in this position before, where not knowing what's going to happen next year," said Weaver, a free agent after the season. "It's definitively a ball of confusion going on in my head. I just try to focus on going out there and pitching." More >

Weaver's strong start

Beltre's blasts: Beltre notched his 31st career multi-homer game and his fourth of the season, establishing a career high. Beltre now has 29 home runs this season, his most since 2013, when he slugged 30. He also recorded his first stolen base of the season.

"The yearly track record kind of speaks for itself," Banister said. "The type of player he is and what he's been, so it's great to see, and I'm glad he's on our side."

Beltre's second homer of game

"We want to make sure we keep them from getting extra motivation to get that spark that they can come back and win with. It happened before, and we don't want it to happen again. We're going to do everything in our power to not give them that chance, because we've got our eyes on the prize, and a win would get us one step closer." -- Beltre, on the importance of winning the next series in Houston

Weaver is the fourth pitcher to complete 1,000 or more innings at Angel Stadium, joining Chuck Finley, Nolan Ryan and Mike Witt.

The Rangers were successful on a challenge in the sixth inning, when Angels first baseman C.J. Cron attempted to steal second. Cron was ruled safe, but the call was overturned after a review of 58 seconds. Replay showed Cron came off the bag as he was being tagged by second baseman Rougned Odor.

Chirinos nabs Cron stealing

Martin Perez will start in the first game of a three-game series against the Astros in Houston on Monday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Last time out, Perez (10-10, 4.25 ERA) snapped a five-game road losing streak in Seattle to earn just his second road win this season. Perez is 1-1 with a 4.85 ERA in two starts against the Astros this season.

Angels: Los Angeles opens a three-game series against the Mariners on Monday as the club continues its 10-game homestand. Ricky Nolasco (5-13, 4.90 ERA), who is 1-1 with a 3.97 ERA in two starts against Seattle this year, will take the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Austin Laymance is a reporter for based in Los Angeles and covered the Angels on Sunday.

Abbey Mastracco is a contributor to based in Los Angeles and covered the Rangers on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.