Cruz helps Rangers salvage win in series


ANAHEIM, Calif. — Matt Harrison won his third straight start, Nelson Cruz hit a long two-run homer and the Texas Rangers beat the streaking Los Angeles Angels 7-3 on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.

The victory ended a four-game skid by the two-time defending AL champions, who lead the Angels by 4 games in the West. The clubs play 13 more times during the regular season.

Harrison (7-3) was charged with three runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings after handing a 5-2 lead to the bullpen.

The left-hander, who started Game 7 of last year’s World Series for the Rangers, departed after giving up a two-out single to Peter Bourjos and a walk to John Hester, who had homered his previous time up.

Mike Trout greeted Alexi Ogando with an RBI single and Alberto Callaspo walked, loading the bases for Albert Pujols, who cracked his bat on an inning-ending flyout to left field. The Rangers put it away with RBI singles in the ninth by Mike Napoli and Elvis Andrus.

Dan Haren (3-6) threw 104 pitches over five innings, allowing two runs and seven hits. The two-time All-Star, who is winless in his last five starts against Texas, ended a career-best streak of 25 strikeouts without a walk when Napoli drew a base on balls in the fourth. The franchise record for most strikeouts without a walk is 30, by Frank Tanana in May 1976.

Hester’s first home run with the Angels was a solo shot to left-center that trimmed Texas’ lead to 3-2 in the sixth, and was the first given up by Harrison in his last four starts.

But Cruz followed a leadoff single in the seventh by Michael Young with his eighth homer, a titanic drive that reached the championship flag poles in left-center after manager Ron Washington gave Cruz the green light on a 3-0 pitch from Bobby Cassevah. The ball was estimated to have traveled 484 feet, making it the longest home run in the majors this season, according to the Angels based on information from ESPN Home Run Tracker.

The Rangers staked Harrison to a 2-0 lead with an RBI double by Andrus in the third and two-out RBI single by Young in the fifth. Young’s hit to first base deflected off the glove of Pujols, who was playing even with the bag with runners at the corners.

The Angels, who had won 10 of their previous 11, got on the board in the fifth after Mark Trumbo drew a leadoff walk and came all the way around on a two-out double to left by Erick Aybar — Los Angeles’ first hit off Harrison. Aybar was 1 for 14 against him prior to that at-bat.

David Murphy led off the Rangers’ sixth with a leadoff double against Cassevah and scored their third run on a groundout by Ian Kinsler.