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Angels squander ninth-inning rally off closer Cordero

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Five years ago, Richard Hidalgo was the
talk of baseball during his breakout season with the Houston
Astros. He hasn't come close to matching those offensive numbers
since, and now he's hoping for a fresh start with the Texas
Rangers.

Hidalgo went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer and Alfonso Soriano
hit a solo shot leading off the 12th inning, powering the Rangers
to a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night.

Hidalgo helped lead Houston to three division titles and set
career highs in 2000 with 44 homers, 122 RBI and a .314 average.
Since then, the injury-prone right fielder has failed to reach 30
homers or 90 RBI.

"Every year isn't going to be the same. I've just got it in my
mind to work hard every year and do my best every year," said
Hidalgo, who hit 25 homers and knocked in 82 runs with the Astros
and New York Mets last season.

"I had a lot of injuries with my legs, and I was frustrated.
But that's all in the past," he said. "This is a new year, and
I'm just happy to be here with this team."

Hidalgo's first American League homer came one pitch after Gold
Glove first baseman Darin Erstad threw wide of shortstop Orlando
Cabrera on a potential inning-ending double-play grounder in the
hole by Mark Teixeira.

Lead runner Michael Young was tagged out by Cabrera after
oversliding second base, but Hidalgo drove reliever Brendan
Donnelly's next pitch over the short fence in the left-field corner
for a 2-1 lead.

"It comes down to who makes more quality pitches, and tonight
they did," Donnelly said. "I threw Hidalgo a slider and it didn't
go away. It went down instead of out, which is what I was trying to
do, and that's my fault. Hidalgo did a good job of dropping the
head of the bat on it and putting it out of the ballpark."

Soriano, who last year set a Rangers record for home runs in a
season by a second baseman, homered on a 1-1 pitch from Bret Prinz
(0-1) -- taking it the other way over the short fence in right.

"It was a fastball away. I got it away, but I left it up a
little bit in the zone. He got the barrel on it and it just stayed
inside the pole," said Prinz who joined the Angels last week in a
trade with the Yankees. "It's not exactly what I was looking for
in my Angels debut. I've been given an opportunity here, and I'd
better start doing better than I did tonight."

Brian Shouse (1-0), the seventh Texas pitcher, went 1 1-3
innings for the victory.

Francisco Cordero, who set a Rangers record with 49 saves last
year, retired Cabrera on a foul pop in the eighth to get out of a
bases-loaded jam he inherited from Doug Brocail and Ron Mahay.

But in the ninth, Cordero gave up a one-out single to Bengie
Molina before Darin Erstad's opposite-field ground-rule double to
right drove in pinch-runner Josh Paul.

The Angels, who averaged 6.5 runs in Washburn's 25 starts last
season, scored in the first on two-out doubles by Vladimir Guerrero
and Garret Anderson.

Rogers, who pitched a perfect game against the Angels in 1994 at
Arlington, won a career-high 18 games last season. His next start
will make him the first pitcher to start and appear in 500 games
with the Rangers.

Angels starter Jarrod Washburn allowed seven hits over six
scoreless innings without walking a batter. He struck out five.

Washburn also had a career-high 18 wins in 2002, when he won 12
straight decisions and helped the Angels win their only World
Series title. But he was 21-23 with a 4.52 ERA in 57 starts over
the last two seasons and spent 5½ weeks on the disabled list with
inflamed cartilage in his left rib cage.

"His stuff looks good, but maintaining it is going to be
important for Wash," manager Mike Scioscia said. "His makeup is
going to make him compete no matter what his stuff is like. But if
he can maintain the arm speed that he needs, and his body
cooperates for the whole year, he's going to be putting up numbers
like you saw a couple of years ago."

Game notes
Guerrero was presented with his 2004 MVP plaque and Silver
Slugger Award at home plate before the game. Erstad received his
third Gold Glove -- which made him the first player in history to
earn the award as an infielder and an outfielder. ... Washburn's
.578 career winning percentage entering this season (67-49) was
second-best in Angels' history behind Bert Blyleven's .579 mark.
... The Rangers this season are wearing a black patch on the right
sleeve with No. 26 in memory of former manager Johnny Oates, who
died in late December after a lengthy bout with cancer.