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Angels bombed by Laird

Posted: April 7, 2008 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 8, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
ANAHEIM - The perception of the Texas Rangers going into 2008 is that, among other weaknesses, they don't have much hitting.

Yet it was, of all hitters, the Rangers' No. 8 batter who did in the Los Angeles Angels and Valencia-born starter Jon Garland Sunday at Angel Stadium.

Gerald Laird went 4-for-5 with two home runs and six RBIs in the Angels' 10-4 loss.

The 28-year-old catcher who is supposed to be keeping a spot warm for prospect Jarrod Saltalamacchia - acquired last season from the Atlanta Braves in the deal for slugger Mark Teixeira - topped off the Rangers' scoring with an RBI single in the seventh inning off Angels reliever Darren O'Day and a two-run home-run in the ninth inning off Jason Bulger.

The Nos. 7, 8 and 9 Ranger batters - Ben Broussard, Laird and Ramon Vazquez, respectively - combined to drive in nine runs.

"You can't sleep on us," Laird said. "We have a scrappy lineup, one through nine."

Laird, who came into the game with one hit on the season, acknowledged the perception of his team.

"I think it was we didn't have a big bopper to hit the long ball," he said.

But the Rangers struck early and often against Garland.

The right-hander allowed seven earned runs and eight hits, striking out two, walking two and hitting two batters in five innings of work.

Garland was stellar Tuesday in his Angels debut - a 9-1 win over Minnesota. He went eight innings, allowing just one earned run.

The pitcher blamed his lack of success Sunday on his control.

"Location," he said. "Everything had to do with location.

"We got a run, we gave them a run ... You can't do that to an offense. It just deflates them."

As for the Angels' offense, the expectation is that Los Angeles will have one of the more formidable outfields in baseball.

The Halos demonstrated it, of sorts Sunday, receiving home runs from Garret Anderson and Torii Hunter.

Yet one big bat has been missing.

Angels right fielder Vladimir Guerrero went 0-for-4 Sunday.

He has one extra base hit in 28 at-bats thus far in 2008 with no home runs.

Guerrero tied for the team lead in Spring Training with four home runs.

"Some guys are still trying to get their feet on the ground," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "Vlad's not attacking the ball very well, but as long as the sun comes up, Vlad will swing that bat well."

Guerrero came to the plate in the fifth inning with two on and no out, but grounded into a double play.

It scored a run, cutting the Rangers' lead down to 7-4.

Anderson put the Angels up early 1-0 with a solo homer in the top of the second inning off Rangers starter Vicente Padilla.

But Garland couldn't hold the lead.

Vazquez knocked in Laird in the top of the third inning with a triple to tie the game 1-1.

He would score on a sacrifice fly from Ian Kinsler.

Laird hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning to give Texas a 5-1 advantage.

Hunter unloaded on a Padilla offering in the fourth inning for his second home run of the season.

His solo shot was followed three batters later by an RBI ground-rule double by Los Angeles catcher Mike Napoli, but Padilla managed to escape the inning with a 5-3 lead.

Then the Rangers answered the Angels' pair of runs from the bottom of the fourth inning with a pair of their own in the top of the fifth.

After Garland got two quick outs, he hit Frank Catalanotto with a pitch, then surrendered a two-run homer to Broussard to give the Rangers a 7-3 lead.

Guerrero's run-scoring double-play ball was as close as Los Angeles would get.

Texas reliever Joaquin Benoit struck out Guerrero, Anderson and Hunter successively in the eighth inning squashing any thought of a comeback.

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