ARLINGTON, Texas -- Cliff Lee flashed some of his 2009 playoff form in his final start of the regular season.
Texas' ace left-hander pitched seven innings in a postseason tuneup and Vladimir Guerrero drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth, leading the Texas Rangers past the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 on Thursday night.Lee held the Angels to four hits and an unearned run in seven innings. He will start Game 1 of the AL division series Wednesday against either Tampa Bay or New York.
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Lee was a playoff star last season with the Philadelphia Phillies, going 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in five starts."I got everything where I wanted headed into the postseason," said Lee, who struck out eight and didn't walk a batter Thursday. "I made a little adjustment mechanically and it worked out. Hopefully, I can carry that into the postseason and continue to give the team a chance to win."Rangers manager Ron Washington said Lee has been tinkering with his changeup as the season winds down."This is the last one before we head out Wednesday," Washington said. "So it was nice for him to leave out on a good note."Nelson Cruz, who had three hits, doubled to right and stole third on a pitch in the dirt with one out in the eighth. Guerrero lined a single to left off reliever Jordan Walden (0-1) to give Texas the lead.Guerrero drove in two runs and has 16 RBIs against his former team this season. He played six seasons with the Angels before joining the Rangers in 2010."You can see it in his eyes," Los Angeles right fielder Torii Hunter said. "He's trying to go deep on every pitch against us."Darren O'Day (6-2) relieved Lee and allowed a game-tying home run to Peter Bourjos.Neftali Feliz pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 39th save in 42 chances.The AL West champion Rangers have an 11-game lead in the division, the largest in franchise history.Los Angeles (78-81) must win its final three games to avoid its first losing season since 2003.Angels starter Scott Kazmir allowed two runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings. The left-hander made his final start of the season and is 2-10 since June 24.Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said the upcoming offseason would be the most important of Kazmir's career."This is when he needs to turn the page and I think he will do that," Scioscia said.Julio Borbon and Elvis Andrus had consecutive one-out singles off Kazmir in the third. Michael Young's sacrifice fly to the warning track scored Borbon and gave Texas a 1-0 lead.Ian Kinsler led off the fourth with a double to center and he came around on Guerrero's double.Lee bounced back after losing last Thursday at Oakland when gave up four runs in five innings. The left-hander struck out three of the first four batters and allowed three hits through five innings before Los Angeles scored."Obviously, you want to get your stuff right headed into the postseason," Lee said. "You want to have a good feeling about where you're at and the way your pitches are working."Bourjos, who had three hits, led off the sixth with a double and reached third on Borbon's fielding error in center field. Bobby Abreu hit a sacrifice fly to bring the Angels within 2-1.
Scioscia didn't know whether Dan Haren would start Sunday's season finale after the right-hander threw a bullpen session before Thursday's game. Haren has pitched 222 innings this season. "We'll see where we are on Sunday." Scioscia said. "He's got a lot of innings under his belt, that's for sure." Andrus was back in the starting lineup after sitting out consecutive games. Kazmir dropped to 0-3 against Texas this season.