Blank­able as­set

Brid­well out­du­els Hamels to help An­gels gain in the wild-card race.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Steve Dil­beck sports@la­times.com

It’s deep-breath time for teams in tight bat­tles for a play­off berth. Time to re­lax, hone the fo­cus, to win any way they can.

The An­gels are get­ting down to it now, the reg­u­lar sea­son of­fer­ing 14 fi­nal games to de­ter­mine whether they get to par­tic­i­pate come the post­sea­son.

They found a way to win Satur­day night, and if their 2-0 vic­tory over the Rangers wasn’t ex­actly of clas­si­cal de­sign, it was plenty ef­fec­tive enough.

The An­gels used two solo home runs from Justin Up­ton to ac­count for the night’s en­tire of­fense. They rode the score­less pitch­ing of starter Parker Brid­well and more ef­fec­tive re­lief from Key­nan Mid­dle­ton, Cam Be­drosian and Yus­meiro Pet­tit to close it down.

“There are many dif­fer­ent ways to win a game,” said An­gels man­ager Mike Scios­cia. “To­day we did it re­ally on the mound.”

The vic­tory al­lowed the An­gels to pull back within a game of the Min­nesota Twins for the fi­nal Amer­i­can League wild-card spot. And though their re­main­ing sched­ule is daunt­ing — their last four se­ries are against the In­di­ans, Astros, White Sox and Mariners — they are well po­si­tioned for the fi­nal two weeks of the sea­son.

“We need to bring a sense of ur­gency to ev­ery game that we need, with­out get­ting tight,” Scios­cia said. “We need to go out there and ex­e­cute.”

Up­ton’s ini­tial homer came in the first in­ning, and stood as the game’s only score un­til he hit an­other one off Cole Hames (10-4) in the eighth.

The home runs gave him 31 on the sea­son and a ca­reer-high 103 RBI.

“Justin is a great player,” Brid­well said. “He has a hot bat and we have to keep that go­ing right now.”

The late-sea­son ac­qui­si­tion has looked very much like the guy who had played so well for the Tigers.

“I think he just changed col­ors and he’s picked up where he left off there,” Scios­cia said.

Out­side of Up­ton, Hamels pretty much had his way with the An­gels. He al­lowed only two other hits.

But the An­gels, who have patch­worked their ro­ta­tion to­gether all sea­son, had an ef­fec­tive an­swer in Brid­well.

The right-han­der they sim­ply pur­chased from the Orioles in the mid­dle of April cruised through the early go­ing.

He had a per­fect game un­der­way when Joey Gallo dou­bled with one out in the fifth. Texas had its best scor­ing chance when Robin­son Chiri­nos fol­lowed with a walk, but Brid­well popped up Rougned Odor and struck out Wil­lie Cal­houn, and that was that.

Brid­well (8-2) lasted six­plus in­nings, not al­low­ing a run or walk, and strik­ing out seven. The An­gels are now 16-2 in games Brid­well has pitched.

“I think it’s just a lot of luck,” Brid­well said. “I just like to go out there and give my team a chance to win.

The Texas na­tive grew up a Rangers fan. It was the first time he faced them.

“We need that well­pitched game,” Scios­cia said. “We haven’t had that of­ten the last 20 games or so.”

Petit has been the un­ex­pected find in the An­gels bullpen this sea­son. He threw two per­fect in­nings Fri­day to earn that win, and a per­fect ninth Satur­day to earn his fourth save.

While the An­gels are mak­ing a lit­tle move at the right time, the Rangers are fad­ing. Satur­day marked their fifth con­sec­u­tive loss.

Short hops

Bran­don Phillips missed the game be­cause of lower back stiff­ness that forced him out of Fri­day’s game in the sev­enth in­ning. Scios­cia was hope­ful Phillips could re­turn Sun­day. … Left­hander An­drew Heaney, who has not pitched since suf­fer­ing a shoul­der im­pinge­ment on Sept. 9, played catch prior to Satur­day’s game. Scios­cia said they hoped to get a firmer grasp of his sta­tus over the next three days. … Yunel Es­co­bar, out since Aug. 7 be­cause of an oblique in­jury, took ground­balls and is sched­uled to start swing­ing on Tues­day.

Chris Carl­son Associated Press

AF­TER HIS first-in­ning home run, the An­gels’ Justin Up­ton re­turns to the dugout in cel­e­bra­tion mode Satur­day night. But the out­fielder wasn’t fin­ished. Up­ton hit a sec­ond homer in the eighth in­ning.

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