Series: Game 3 of 3

Texas won 2-1

Game 1: Tuesday, September 24
Anaheim 1Final
Texas 2
Game 2: Wednesday, September 25
Anaheim 3Final
Texas 4
Game 3: Thursday, September 26
Anaheim 10Final
Texas 5

Angels 10

(97-62, 45-36 away)

Rangers 5

(72-87, 42-36 home)

    3:05 PM ET, September 26, 2002

    Globe Life Park in Arlington, Arlington, Texas 

    123456789 R H E
    ANA 000240400 10 - -
    TEX 010101011 5 - -

    W: J. Lackey (9-4)

    L: C. Lewis (1-3)

    Angels beat Rangers to lock up playoff spot

    ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Now, the Anaheim Angels can celebrate.

    Garret Anderson

    Garret Anderson sparked Anaheim with a three-run homer in the fifth.

    After 16 years and a four-game losing streak that kept putting off the party, the Angels finally clinched a playoff berth with a 10-5 victory over the Texas Rangers on Thursday.

    ''We would have taken it anyway, but to have an opportunity to get to do this right here, it's pretty special,'' said center fielder Darin Erstad, who was doused in champagne and beer just like everyone else in the Anaheim clubhouse.

    Since their last postseason appearance in 1986, the closest the Angels got to the playoffs was when they finished a game behind Seattle in 1995, when Garett Anderson and Troy Percival were rookies.

    ''I had a glimpse of it my first year, but that has been a sour note in my career until now,'' Anderson said. ''I was so close, then the last six or seven years I got a rude awakening of how hard it is to really get to the postseason. I'm enjoying this.''

    With the score 2-2 in the fifth, outfielder Tim Salmon hit a run-scoring infield single and Anderson added a three-run homer off Colby Lewis (1-3).

    Salmon and Scott Spiezio each hit a two-run homer in the seventh.

    Rookie John Lackey (9-4) allowed three runs and seven hits in five-plus innings. He left after giving up consecutive singles to start the sixth.

    Anaheim, which eliminated Seattle with the victory, will open the postseason as the AL wild card Tuesday in New York against the Yankees. Oakland and Minnesota have also clinched AL playoff berths.

    The Angels, who had lost four in a row and seven of nine, clinched on the road for the first time. The team also went to the playoffs in 1979 and 1982 but has never won a postseason series.

    While Anaheim struggled the past week, the Mariners remained in contention with consecutive come-from-behind victories over the A's.

    ''It's been a long grind. It's been emotionally draining and physically draining,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ''We got over that little rough spot of maybe guys were trying to bull themselves through that last game to get at least to the playoffs.''

    Since Anaheim last played in the postseason, 25 of the other 29 major league teams had been to the playoffs.

    After the first three weeks this season, the Angels were 6-14 -- their worst 20-game start ever -- and 10 games behind Seattle in the AL West. Now they have a club-record 97 victories, including 45 on the road.

    Todd Greene's ninth homer gave Texas a 1-0 lead in the second, but Anaheim scored a pair of unearned runs in the fourth after an error by left fielder Mike Lamb. Brad Fullmer had a run-scoring double and Troy Glaus' groundout brought home another run.

    The lead lasted just one pitch in the bottom half, as Herbert Perry homered. But the Angels charged right back in front in the fifth.

    ''I felt like I threw the ball well, and I thought the pitch to Anderson was pretty good,'' Lewis said. ''When he hit it, I didn't think it was going to carry. That was pretty much the turning point.''

    Texas rookie Hank Blalock had a run-scoring single in the sixth that made it 6-3. Lamb opened the ninth with a homer off Percival, who closed out the clincher nine days after his last appearance.

    ''I had the worst possible scenario. I had rust and too much adrenaline, but it worked out,'' Percival said. ''I have a lot of ghosts coming out right now -- Gary DiSarcina, Chuck Finley, guys who put a lot of heart in this uniform and didn't get a chance to do it here.

    ''This makes everything I've ever lived for worth it,'' he said. ''It's the best feeling I've ever had.''

    Game notes

    Before Salmon's fifth-inning hit, the top three batters in Anaheim's lineup -- David Eckstein, Erstad and Salmon -- were a combined 0-for-29 in the series. ... Rangers right fielder Todd Hollandsworth left after fouling a ball off his knee in the second inning. He has a bruised knee and is day to day. ... Anderson, who has played his entire eight-year career with the Angels, tied a career high with his 194th hit. ... Salmon has 30 homers against Texas, including 16 at The Ballpark in Arlington, the most by an opposing player. ... Alex Rodriguez was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. ... Anaheim is 46-27 since the All-Star break.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press