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Angels fall season-high six behind Texas

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Thanks to their surprising pitching, the
Texas Rangers can do more than just outhit teams now.

"It's why we are in first. We have the hitters, but we have to
pitch," closer Francisco Cordero said. "It's been an unbelievable
season, not only for me, but the whole team."

Ryan Drese threw seven innings in another impressive home start,
leading Texas over the Anaheim Angels 3-2 on Wednesday night. Two
relievers combined for a perfect eighth before Cordero got three
outs for his 30th save in 32 chances.

Alfonso Soriano hit the major league-leading 145th homer for
Texas, second in the majors with 524 runs.

The AL West-leading Rangers (54-38) have their best record
through 92 games, one more win than in 1996 when they won their
first division title. They are a season-best 16 games over .500,
going 5-1 since the All-Star break.

Michael Young's two-out double in the seventh drove in the
go-ahead run, and the bullpen dominated the Angels in the last two
innings.

Ron Mahay retired his only two batters and Carlos Almanzar
struck out Vladimir Guerrero on three straight fastballs to end the
eighth. Cordero then worked a perfect ninth.

"Fortunately, we had Ryan going and he kept us right in the
middle of the game," Young said. "Our bullpen has been awesome."

Drese (6-5) allowed two runs on five hits, and his 1.98 home ERA
is the second-best in the AL behind Oakland's Tim Hudson. All of
Drese's wins have come at home, where his only loss was a 1-0
complete game against Houston.

"Drese kept the ball down all night," Angels manager Mike
Scioscia said. "He's got a real good arm, but has really started
to understand the importance of movement and locating pitches."

Texas relievers have a 1.59 ERA since the All-Star break,
allowing just four earned runs in 22 2-3 innings.

Anaheim lost for the fifth time in six games. The third-place
Angels dropped a season-high six games behind Texas.

Young's double in the seventh, on the second pitch by Francisco
Rodriguez, drove in Gary Matthews Jr. Young finished 2-for-4,
extending his major league-leading totals to 135 hits and 45
multihit games.

Matthews led off the inning by drawing a four-pitch walk against
Kelvim Escobar (5-7) and stealing second. The right-hander was
relieved after getting a strikeout and a grounder.

Escobar struck out eight -- seven in the first three innings, but
he still trailed 2-0. The Angels have averaged just 3.7 runs per
game in his 19 starts, and he is 1-4 in his last eight.

"I want to win, not only for me, but for the team," Escobar
said. "The way I've thrown so far, I deserve more. But that's the
way it goes."

Soriano's 19th homer came after Young and Hank Blalock, Texas'
other All-Star infielders, struck out in the first. Soriano is
12-for-26 with three homers in his last seven games.

One night after tying a team record with three doubles, Rod
Barajas led off the third with another two-bagger and scored on
Blalock's two-out single that only went about 12 feet.

Blalock, mired in an 8-for-44 slump over 12 games, took a full
swing. The ball dribbled up the third-base line and came to a stop
in the grass just outside the cutout surrounding home plate.

Jose Guillen, back in Anaheim's lineup after missing three games
with lower back spasms, drove in Garret Anderson with his
fourth-inning groundout. Anderson singled and advanced on
Guerrero's double.

Anaheim tied the game at 2 when Darin Erstad drew a leadoff walk
in the seventh and scored on Adam Kennedy's two-out single.

Game notes
Drese hasn't allowed a home run over 40 innings in his last
six starts. ... Rangers OF David Dellucci is day-to-day after
fouling a pitch off his right ankle in the third. He had a cut and
bruise on his ankle, but X-rays showed no further damage. ... David
Eckstein and Chone Figgins, Anaheim's 1-2 hitters, both went
0-for-4, ending 11-game hitting streaks. ... Kennedy is hitting
.179 at home, but .344 on the road after going 2-for-3. ... Texas
RHP Jeff Nelson began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Oklahoma,
throwing 11 of 13 pitches for strikes in a perfect inning.