Guerrero, Angels break out bats to help Lackey to 12th win

" Figure this: Lackey needed 45 pitches to get out of a three-run first inning by the Rangers that took 21 minutes to complete, but still earned the win.

" Quotable: "I felt great in the bullpen. I probably warmed up the best I've warmed up this year. Then I had to figure out some way to get somebody out. They made me work a little bit, but I think my execution had a lot to do with it, too." -- Lackey

" Heroes: Vladimir Guerrero, Reggie Willits and Gary Matthews Jr. each had two RBIs for the Angels.

" Goat: Rangers starter Kameron Loe lasted just 2 2/3 innings, which matches the shortest of his 16 starts this season.

-- ESPN.com news services

Angels 9, Rangers 5

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The way John Lackey started out, it appeared that he would need a lot of relief. Justin Speier provided a much-needed boost out of the bullpen.

Lackey overcame a 45-pitch, 21-minute first inning in which he gave up three runs, and Speier made his first relief appearance since April as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Texas Rangers 9-5 Saturday night.

Vladimir Guerrero, Reggie Willits and Gary Matthews Jr. each had two RBIs for the Angels, who maintained their three-game lead over Seattle in the AL West.

Lackey, who didn't get a chance to pitch in last Tuesday's All-Star Game, gave up four runs -- three earned -- and seven hits in six innings. The right-hander was coming off a brilliant outing against the Yankees in which he dueled Roger Clemens to a 1-1 tie through eight innings before the Angels won it in the 13th.

"I felt great in the bullpen," Lackey said. "I probably warmed up the best I've warmed up this year. Then I had to figure out some way to get somebody out. They made me work a little bit, but I think my execution had a lot to do with it, too."

Michael Young followed Kenny Lofton's leadoff double with an RBI single in the first. Young scored when first baseman Casey Kotchman fielded Marlon Byrd's routine grounder with the bases loaded and made a low throw to the plate that Jose Molina couldn't handle. Lackey walked the next batter, Gerald Laird, on four pitches to force home the third run.

Lackey (12-5) straightened himself out in time, making only 36 pitches over the next three innings and finishing with 113. He improved his record against Texas to 3-0 this season and helped the Angels beat the Rangers at home for the 19th time in 23 tries.

"I definitely wasn't working with a full tank after throwing that many pitches in the first inning," Lackey said. "I had a pretty good sweat going. But sometimes you've got to grind. I was having trouble with the right side of the plate early on. I was yanking my fastball over the plate, not getting it in to right-handers or away from left-handers."

Speier, who missed 63 games because of an intestinal infection, made his first appearance since April 30. The 33-year-old right-hander struck out the side in the seventh on 13 pitches -- getting Young swinging, Mark Teixeira looking and Sammy Sosa on a checked swing.

"That's been my job my whole career -- just going out there and making my pitches," Speier said. "Those are three good hitters, and I made some good pitches. It was just a blessing to get back out there and do my job. It was huge. It was 2 1/2 months of frustration being vented in one outing.

"I felt like a rookie the last two days, waiting to get back out there," Speier added. "This outing rates as probably one of the most special of my career. Jose Molina were going over signs and he said, 'You've been waiting 2 1/2 months for this. Have some fun."

Scot Shields pitched a scoreless eighth, extending his shutout streak to 24 2/3 innings over his last 19 outings, and Dustin Moseley worked the ninth.

Kameron Loe (5-7) lasted just 2 2/3 innings, equaling the shortest of his 16 starts this season. The right-hander allowed five runs -- three earned -- along with five hits and a season-high five walks after winning his previous four decisions.

Loe gave up a career-high six walks against the Angels in his first big league start, on Sept. 29, 2004, at Arlington, Texas.

The Angels pulled ahead 5-4 with three runs in the third. Kotchman and Maicer Izturis hit RBI singles on consecutive pitches with the bases loaded, and Loe forced home the go-ahead run by walking Willits with his 67th and final pitch.

"He didn't have his sinker working, which is his bread-and-butter pitch," manager Ron Washington said. "I didn't see the good bite on it. He just couldn't keep it in the strike zone. If he has his command, I think it would have been a different story."

Los Angeles increased the margin to 6-4 in the fifth on an RBI double by Molina, who was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple. Guerrero, who came in with a .424 career average against Texas, added an RBI single in the sixth and Matthews completed the scoring with a two-run double in the ninth.

Loe got off to an inauspicious start, walking each of his first two batters on four pitches. After a brief chat with pitching coach Mark Connor, Loe retired Orlando Cabrera on a fielder's choice grounder and Willits scored on Guerrero's groundout.

"After he went to two balls with the second hitter, we told Gerald to sit in the middle of the plate and he still missed," Washington said.

Game notes
Lackey struck out the side on 18 pitches in the fifth. ... Angels 3B Chone Figgins stole second in the sixth for his 184th career steal, two shy of the franchise record set by current Rangers 1B coach Gary Pettis. ... The Rangers' pitching staff has given up 366 walks, second in the majors behind the Florida Marlins' 387. ... Kotchman's error was only his second in 67 starts at 1B this season.