Emergency starter Joaquin Benoit pitched two-hit ball into the fifth inning, then six relievers gave up three hits the rest of the way yesterday to lead the Texas Rangers to a 2-0 victory over the Angels in Anaheim, Calif.
Rod Barajas, the No. 9 batter, drove in the Rangers' first run with a single off Kelvim Escobar (10-11) in the third inning. Pinch hitter Gary Matthews Jr. added an RBI single off Scot Shields in the ninth.
The shutout was the Rangers' seventh of the year and the ninth time Anaheim has been blanked -- five of those when Escobar started.
"He's been pitching so well," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said of Escobar, who held the Rangers to one run on three hits in eight innings, with seven strikeouts and two walks. "If we were scoring runs behind him, he'd be in Cy Young contention."
With the loss the Angels fell two games behind Oakland in the AL West. Both teams have 14 games remaining, including six against each other.
Benoit got the start when rookie Juan Dominguez was scratched because of a sore right knee, and held Anaheim to two hits, struck out six and walked three in four-plus innings. Erasmo Ramirez (5-3) pitched a hitless fifth to get the win, and Francisco Cordero pitched the final two innings for his 45th save in 49 chances.
"It's probably one of our best wins of the year, when you consider all of the factors working against us," Rangers Manager Buck Showalter said.
The crowd of 41,233 ran the Angels' season total to a franchise-record 3,087,026.
* ATHLETICS 7, MARINERS 4: Tim Hudson beat Seattle for the third time this season and Eric Chavez hit his 29th homer, leading Oakland to a road win.
Erubiel Durazo tied his career high with four hits and Marco Scutaro tied his high with three RBI for the Athletics.
Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki went 1 for 5 with his 200th single. He has 236 hits, 21 shy of the season record set by George Sisler with the St. Louis Browns in 1920.
Hudson (12-5) won for the fifth time in six decisions and improved to 12-5 against the Mariners. He gave up three runs in eight innings.
* WHITE SOX 9, TIGERS 8: Joe Borchard scored from second on Aaron Rowand's infield single in the 12th inning as Chicago won at home.
Borchard and Rowand each hit two-run homers in the 10th inning after Dmitri Young and Carlos Pena hit two-run shots in the top half to give Detroit an 8-4 lead.
* BLUE JAYS 4, DEVIL RAYS 2: In Toronto, David Bush and three relievers combined on a three-hitter, leading the Blue Jays at home.
Bush (4-4) gave up two runs and two hits and walked four in six innings. Miguel Batista pitched the ninth for his second career save.
* ROYALS 7, INDIANS 1: In Cleveland, John Buck hit a two-run homer and Jimmy Gobble allowed two hits over seven innings for Kansas City.