Erstad extend hitting streak to 21 games

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- When Bartolo Colon threw a no-hitter in
Triple-A back in 1997, the only batter who hit the ball hard
against him was Richard Hidalgo.

So when Colon faced the Texas Rangers' slugger twice with the
bases loaded Tuesday night, he knew what to do. The right-hander
escaped jams in the first and third innings by retiring Hidalgo on

Apparently, Francisco Rodriguez was taking notes, because he did
the same thing to Hidalgo with the potential tying runs on base,
and the Los Angeles Angels hung on for an 8-6 victory.

"I thought fastball the whole way," Colon said through a
translator. "In the minor leagues, I remember how well he hit me
when I threw him breaking balls. Even in the no-hit game I threw,
he hit me well and made good contact. So even now, I respect him as
a good breaking ball hitter. So why not throw the fastball?"

Dallas McPherson drove in three runs, helping the Angels rough
up Chan Ho Park and open a 3-game lead over the Rangers in the AL
West. Darin Erstad had three hits to extend his hitting streak to
21 games. But it was the eight baserunners Hidalgo stranded that
made most of the difference.

"Our approach with Hidalgo was simple," catcher Bengie Molina
said. "He's a very good off-speed hitter, so all we were trying to
do is stay with the fastball hard and make him beat us on the
fastball. You've got to make him beat you with your best stuff, and
the best stuff for us is the fastball."

Colon (9-4) improved his career record against Texas to 14-5,
allowing three runs and six hits in six innings. The right-hander
struck out seven and walked two en route to his fourth victory in
five decisions.

Texas tried to rally in the ninth on RBI singles by Mark
Teixeira and Hank Blalock, but Rodriguez struck out Alfonso Soriano
and got Hidalgo to ground into a game-ending forceout.

Colon escaped his first bases-loaded jam -- and possible injury --
in the first.

Soriano's bat shattered on a bouncer just to the left of the
mound with two on, and Colon had to duck to avoid getting hit in
the head with the barrel. Soriano ended up with an infield hit, but
Hidalgo looked at a third strike.

Colon stranded three more in the third, striking out Soriano and
retiring Hidalgo on a flyout.

"We told our guys that we have to pitch him very tough because
he's a very tough out and he's especially good in RBI situations,
based on what we saw in the last series," pitching coach Bud Black
said. "There's nothing really specific, because each pitcher
throws different stuff, so we told them that they might have to
heighten their concentration if that guy comes up."

The Rangers have lost 12 of their last 17 against the Angels.
David Dellucci, whose solo homer Monday night was the extent of
Texas' offense, hit a three-run shot in the fourth after the Angels
staked Colon to an 8-0 lead.

Park (7-2) lost for the first time in 11 starts since Oakland
beat him on April 18. The right-hander, who had won his previous
six decisions, faced 13 batters -- retiring only three -- while
allowing eight runs and 10 hits in the shortest of his 238 career
starts. His ERA increased from 5.15 to 6.05, one point higher than
Pedro Astacio's ERA was when the Rangers released him earlier

"Obviously, he struggled," manager Buck Showalter said. "We
kept waiting for him to get an out and get out of the inning. They
kept tacking on, and had a lot of good at-bats against him. It just
kind of snowballed on him. The big inning is something he's been
able to stay away from this year, but tonight was not the case."

Park, who threw 40 pitches in the first inning his last time
out, needed 37 to get out of the first this time as the Angels sent
10 batters to the plate and scored five runs on seven hits.

"I think the key to getting anybody out of there as early as
you can is by making him throw a lot of pitches and finding a way
to get on base," McPherson said.

Vladimir Guerrero had an RBI double that extended his hitting
streak against the Rangers to 26 games, the longest by any current
player against one club. Molina and Adam Kennedy had RBI singles
and McPherson added a two-run double.

The Angels loaded the bases again in the second against Park
with three singles. John Wasdin replaced him and forced in a run
with a walk to Molina. One out later, McPherson and Maicer Izturis
padded the lead to 8-0 with RBI singles.

Game notes
The last time Park faced the Angels on April 13 at home, he
struck out six of his first nine batters. ... Wasdin was not
charged with a run in 5 1/3 innings, and has not been scored upon
in 12 2/3 innings in four relief appearances since being recalled
from the minors on June 12. ... Guerrero, who had three hits, is
batting .421 lifetime against Texas with 10 homers and 21 RBI. ...
Texas' two catchers, Rod Barajas and Sandy Alomar Jr., are a
combined 0-for-30 lifetime against Colon.