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Texas Rangers clinch playoff berth with 5-3 victory

By
Art Garcia, The Sports Xchange
Texas Rangers' J.P. Arencibia. UPI/John Angelillo
Texas Rangers' J.P. Arencibia. UPI/John Angelillo | License Photo

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Just getting to the playoffs is not enough for the Texas Rangers.

"We're trying to get this division," Texas center fielder Delino DeShields said. "It's a good feeling to be guaranteed in the playoffs, but we're not done yet. We've got one more game to get the division and that's the goal we've been working for all year."

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The Rangers guaranteed themselves postseason life by beating the Los Angeles Angels 5-3 on Thursday at Globe Life Park.

Texas (87-72) can do no worse than a wild card after its third consecutive victory. The Rangers are three games up on Houston (84-75) in the American League West with three games left in the regular season. The Astros begin a three-game series with Arizona on Friday.

Should the Rangers lose the last three games of their four-game series with the Angels coupled with a Houston sweep, a one-game playoff Monday would determine the AL West champion and the wild card.

Texas needs one win (or Astros loss) to clinch its sixth division title.

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The Angels, last year's West champion, were eliminated from the division race, but are alive for a playoff berth. Los Angeles and Minnesota are 83-76, one game back of Houston for the second wild card spot. The New York Yankees (87-72) locked down the other wild card with their victory Thursday.

"We have to win out," Angels center fielder Mike Trout said. "We can't lose anymore. It's plain and simple."

Third baseman Adrian Beltre drove in three runs for Texas, picking up where he left on in September. The veteran led the American League with 29 RBIs last month.

Rangers starter Derek Holland (4-3) rebounded from four subpar outings by working into the seventh and allowing three runs. The left-hander struck out six and gave up three hits in 6 1/3 innings.

"I thought Derek threw the ball very well," Texas manager Jeff Banister said. "The ball came out clean. The breaking ball showed up again, the changeup was there and, more than anything else, there was life on the fastball."

Texas closer Shawn Tolleson picked up his 35th save of the season, including his fourth against the Angels, after a perfect ninth.

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"We've got to win one more," Tolleson said. "We've got to win the West."

Designated hitter Albert Pujols had a part in the Angels' first two runs. He doubled and scored in the second before rocketing a solo home run to left in the sixth. Pujols has 39 homers for the season and 559 for his career.

Los Angeles starter Andrew Heaney (6-4) allowed four runs on five hits and five walked in 4 1/3 innings.

The Rangers bumped their lead to 5-3 in the seventh after Beltre and designated hitter Prince Fielder opened the innings with singles off reliever Cesar Ramos. Back-to-back fly balls to center from pinch hitter Mitch Moreland and left fielder Josh Hamilton were enough to get Beltre home.

Pujols led off the second with a double to the left-field wall and later scored on left fielder Shane Victorino's long sacrifice fly.

The inning could have gone much worse for Holland with runners at the corners and one out. Hamilton, however, chased down Victorino's drive and caught it with his back to the infield before sliding into the wall.

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"I'm not surprised," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Hamilton. "He's a good left fielder with a lot of range."

Heaney worked around control issues with two doubles plays through the first four innings to keep the Rangers scoreless.

Texas broke through in the fifth by taking advantage of Heaney's fourth and fifth walks to score four times. Beltre had the big blow, a three-run double to chase Heaney.

"I need to bounce that," Heaney said of the low slider to Beltre. "I'm not surprised. That guy is really freaking good."

NOTES: The Angels allowed seven unearned runs on four errors Wednesday after entering the game surrendering the fewest unearned runs in the American League. ... The Angels have won 14 of their last 17 games in Arlington. ... The Texas bullpen finished September with a 2.05 ERA and a .197 batting average against, both the lowest figures in the majors for the month.

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