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Rangers use seventh-inning outburst to eliminate Angels from playoffs

Rangers use seventh-inning outburst to eliminate Angels from playoffs
Rangers third basemanAdrian Beltre is congratulated by teammate Mitch Moreland after hitting a two-run home run against the Angels in the fifth inning Sunday afternoon. (Brandon Wade / Getty Images)

Adrian Beltre turned a one-run deficit into a one-run lead with a two-run homer in the fifth inning, and the Texas Rangers broke the game open with a six-run seventh en route to a 9-2 victory over the Angels on Sunday, clinching their sixth American League West championship and knocking the Angels out of playoff contention.

A crowd of 45,772 in Globe Life Park was on its feet for the ninth inning, as Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels, acquired in a July 31 trade with Philadelphia, finished off a complete game in which he gave up two runs and three hits, struck out eight and walked two. Texas went 10-0 in his last 10 starts.

The Angels needed to beat the Rangers -- and they needed Arizona to beat Houston -- on Sunday to force a one-game tiebreaker against the Astros on Monday for the second American League wild-card spot.

Instead, the Angels closed the season with an 85-77 record, while Texas advanced to the AL division series against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Astros will play the New York Yankees in Tuesday night’s wild-card game, with the winner advancing to the division series against the Kansas City Royals.

Garrett Richards, pitching on three days' rest for the first time in his career, gave the Angels a chance, holding the Rangers to three runs and six hits in six innings, striking out six and walking two. Beltre’s two-out homer to right, which followed Shin-Soo Choo’s infield single, gave Texas a 3-2 lead.

But Richards left after six innings and an overworked and injury-plagued bullpen that kept the Angels in playoff contention for the last two weeks collapsed in the seventh, when five Angels relievers combined to give up four hits and three walks.

Angels right-hander Cam Bedrosian opened the seventh by walking Chris Gimenez. He then collided with third baseman David Freese trying to field a bunt by Delino DeShields, who reached on a single.

Left-hander Cesar Ramos replaced Bedrosian and walked Choo to load the bases and Prince Fielder to force in a run to make it 4-2. In came right-hander Mike Morin to face Beltre, whose hard grounder was stopped by Freese with a dive.

But Freese stumbled as he tried to get up to throw home and had no play as another run scored for a 5-2 Texas lead. Mitch Moreland's sacrifice fly to right field made it 6-2, Josh Hamilton's run-scoring single to right-center made it 7-2, and Elvis Andrus' two-run double to left finished the rally to make it 9-2.

The Angels got off to a great start when Mike Trout hit a two-out double to left field in the first inning and Albert Pujols drove a two-run home run to center, giving the Angels slugger his first 40-homer season since 2010, when he hit 42 for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Pujols and Trout (41 homers) became the first pair of Angels teammates to hit 40 homers in the same season. Until this season, former third baseman Troy Glaus, who hit 47 homers in 2000 and 41 in 2001, was the only other Angel to hit 40 homers in a season.

But Richards seemed a little over-amped in the first inning, walking DeShields and Choo, the latter on four pitches. Fielder stroked an RBI single to left to pull the Rangers to within 2-1.

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Richards escaped further damage with the help of Trout, who raced to the wall for Moreland's drive, but he needed 32 pitches to get out of the first inning.

Hamels, meanwhile, settled down after his shaky first inning, giving up no runs and only one hit-- Shane Victorino’s one-out double in the second -- over the next eight innings.

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