Desperate for good news, the Angels took it where they could find it Saturday night.
Their 5-3 victory over the Texas Rangers came with glitches, but those looking for a silver lining had a bottom-line reference point.
“It’s time to grind it out,” said third baseman Tony Phillips, who had two hits and scored two runs. “Everything we get now is going to help us in September. It’s time to rack up some wins.”
They got one Saturday, but not without some concerns.
Lee Smith got Lou Frazier to fly out for Save No. 26, getting the Angels out of a jam of their own making. Smith had hit one batter and shortstop Spike Owen made two errors on one ground ball to prolong the inning.
But, in the end, the Angels increased their lead in the American League West to 11 games over the Rangers.
That was the good news. There has been plenty of bad lately.
The Angels saw the Anaheim Stadium return of Jim Abbott spoiled Thursday with a 10-7 loss to Seattle. They learned Friday that shortstop Gary DiSarcina would be out for the season because of a torn thumb ligament.
There were more problems Saturday.
Pitcher Mark Langston was brilliant for six innings, then left because of a tender elbow. His start had been pushed back three days because of a similar problem after his 13-6 victory over Milwaukee on July 28.
Owen, who for the moment has replaced DiSarcina, made three errors, two on a grounder by Otis Nixon with two out in the ninth inning, letting in a run and putting the tying runs in scoring position.
Owen is also nursing a sore left shoulder, which will need surgery at the end of the season.
But concerns about Langston and Owen can be put off, at least another day.
Langston (11-1) won a career-high eighth consecutive game and was impressive. He gave up three hits, struck out five and his only mistake was a home run by Jeff Frye in the fifth.
“Langston is fine,” Manager Marcel Lachemann said. “It was precautionary more than anything else.”
Ranger pitcher Danny Darwin had been released by Toronto on July 18 after losing eight consecutive games. His loss Saturday equaled the longest losing streak in the major leagues this season.
Darwin (1-9) hadn’t pitched in the majors since July 4, when he was roughed up by the Angels for five runs in 1 2/3 innings.
His career pretty much picked up where it left off. Tony Phillips hit a 2-and-1 pitch 391 feet over the center-field fence in the first inning for his 17th home run. It was the fifth time this season that Phillips had led off a game with a home run and the 20th time in his career.
Still, Darwin kept the Rangers close through five innings. He gave up eight hits, but was helped by double plays in the fourth and fifth.
The Angels, who have scored runs in bunches, settled for chipping away.
Tim Salmon continued to wear out the Rangers with a run-scoring single in the third inning. It was his 12th RBI in eight games against Texas.
Garret Anderson continued to wear out American League pitching, hitting his 11th home run in the sixth inning, giving the Angels a 4-1 lead.
The Rangers also threatened in the seventh, when they loaded the bases with one out. But reliever Troy Percival struck out Mike Pagliarulo and Nixon to end the inning.
Percival struck out the side in the eighth. Then the Angels survived the ninth.