ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Angel Stadium fans already boo A.J. Pierzynski every time he comes to the plate. The Texas catcher figured he might as well give them another good reason.
Pierzynski hit a tiebreaking homer with two outs in the ninth inning, and the Rangers rallied from a late three-run deficit for a 7-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.
Shortly after Adrian Beltre’s drive fell inches short of the fence in the ninth, Pierzynski hit his fourth homer of the season to right off Angels closer Ernesto Frieri (0-1), capping an offense-dominated meeting between AL West rivals on three-game winning streaks.
“When I hit mine, I was afraid it wasn’t going to go out, either,” Pierzynski said. “Luckily it went just far enough.”
Mitch Moreland had three hits and drove in a run for the Rangers, who also got three hits from Elvis Andrus in their fourth consecutive victory.
The Angels had a 6-3 lead after the sixth inning, but Texas tied it with three runs in the seventh — including an RBI single from Pierzynski right after he fouled a ball off his right kneecap.
Pierzynski is reviled in both of California’s AL ballparks largely for his postseason exploits against the Angels and the Oakland Athletics over the years. The boos don’t bother the 36-year-old veteran at all.
“I actually love it,” he said. “It’s an awesome atmosphere. This is one of my favorite ballparks. This is where I played my first big league game, so this is a special place to me.”
Tanner Scheppers (2-0) pitched two innings of one-hit relief for the Rangers, and Joe Nathan worked the ninth for his sixth save.
Chris Iannetta doubled in the go-ahead run and Luis Jimenez got his first career RBIs on a two-run single during that sixth-inning rally for the Angels, who couldn’t overcome Texas’ 15 hits.
“We just kept fighting,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “We had to scratch out some runs there at the end, but I felt like we had a chance all night. … That’s what A.J. is all about. He’s an exciting player. I love him. A lot of people hate him, but I love him.”
Josh Hamilton had four hits against his former team after getting bumped out of the cleanup spot, and Howie Kendrick had a two-run double for the Angels in the series opener. Los Angeles beat defending AL champion Detroit three times by a combined 22-4, while the Rangers won three straight over Seattle during their only home series in a 19-day span.
Frieri has been a dependable reliever since joining the Angels last season, but his power pitching wasn’t enough to get past the Rangers’ veterans in the ninth.
“They were all swinging because they know that I use my fastball and I keep doing it,” Frieri said. “If I pitch tomorrow, I’m going to go out there with my best stuff. If I’m going to get beat, I’m going to get beat like that — using my best stuff. I’m not a breaking ball guy.”
Albert Pujols was 0 for 5 for the Angels, while Mike Trout went 0 for 4 with a walk and failed to make a potential run-saving catch at the wall in the sixth inning. Mark Trumbo also went 0 for 4 with a walk as the Angels’ cleanup hitter, striking out to end the game.
But Hamilton went 4 for 4 after getting dropped to the No. 5 spot in the lineup for the first time in his debut season with the Angels, who gave him $125 million to leave Texas last winter. Mired in a 1-for-21 slump, Hamilton moved down and immediately had his 16th career four-hit game — his first with the Angels.
“I didn’t feel any different tonight than I have in the last three weeks,” Hamilton said. “I just got four hits. I’d much rather win a ballgame and get no hits. Sometimes Wash would move me to the five hole. I don’t know what it is about the five hole, but it seemed to work.”
Derek Holland yielded six hits and six runs for Texas, walking four while pitching into the sixth inning in his rockiest start of a strong season.
Joe Blanton allowed 12 hits while pitching into the seventh for the Angels, leaving with a three-run lead before his bullpen wasted it. The veteran right-hander has struggled mightily in his first month with Los Angeles, starting 0-3.
Iannetta delivered a two-out RBI double to left in the sixth, chasing Holland. Jimenez followed with his two-run single off Jason Frasor for the rookie third baseman’s first career RBIs.
But the Rangers’ first six hitters all reached base in the seventh against four Angels pitchers. Pinch-hitter Jeff Baker tied it when Scott Downs dropped his high chopper in front of the plate.
NOTES: Opponents have walked Pujols five times this season to get to Hamilton, including twice on Sunday. Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said Hamilton’s move to the fifth spot is likely a lefty-righty platoon with Trumbo for now, after Hamilton went 1 for 19 in the first three weeks against left-handers. … The Angels put RHP Tommy Hanson on the bereavement list. He’s likely to miss his scheduled start Wednesday against Texas, and RHP Jerome Williams is likely to replace him.