Angels beat Rangers, clinch home-field for first round

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- The Los Angeles Angels quickly zipped up
their suitcases and emptied out their lockers.

They were going home -- eager and happy to be doing so.

The AL West champions clinched home field-advantage for the
first round the AL playoffs, closing out the regular season by
beating Texas 7-4 Sunday behind Juan Rivera's three-run homer.

The Angels will face the New York Yankees in the best-of-five
series, beginning with Game 1 Tuesday at Anaheim. The Yankees
could've earned the home field if they'd beaten Boston, but lost
10-1 about an hour after the Angels' game ended.

"I think we accomplished what we wanted to by getting guys
rested and getting home field," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
"Everything had to fall in place perfectly, and it looks like it

The Yankees and Angels both finished the regular season 95-67,
but the tiebreaker went to the Angels because they won six of 10
against the Yankees this season.

The Angels begin the playoffs having won 14 of their last 16
overall. Scioscia said he wouldn't reveal his starting rotation
until Monday.

Angels starter Ervin Santana (12-8) lasted six innings, allowing
four runs on seven hits. He also struck out six.

Francisco Rodriguez got his 45th save in 50 chances, tying him
with Bob Wickman for the most saves in the league this season.

The Rangers wrapped up their fifth losing season in six years,
but one bright spot Sunday was shortstop Michael Young securing the
AL batting title. He did so with a single in the first inning, then
left the game to a standing ovation and fireworks after he walked
in the third.

Young finished the season batting .331, edging out New York's
Alex Rodriguez.

"It hasn't really hit me yet," said Young, who had a 25-game
hitting streak end Thursday. "But I know it's something I can
carry with me the rest of my life."

Despite the title, Young said he was disappointed for his team,
which ended the years losers of four straight.

"I'd trade the batting title for a championship in a
heartbeat," he said.

Rangers rookie Kameron Loe (9-6), hoping for a spot in the
Rangers' rotation next season, allowed three earned runs on seven
hits in 5 2-3 innings.

The Angels also had home-field advantage in the first-round last
year but were ousted by the Red Sox. In 2002, they didn't have
home-field advantage in the first round and won the World Series.

"We really don't care," Angels first baseman Darin Erstad
said. "We got our foot in the door, and that's all you ask for.
Whatever happens, happens."

The Rangers had built a 4-1 lead in the third after Gary
Matthews Jr.'s triple scored Adrian Gonzalez and Jason Botts. Mark
Teixeira and Hank Blalock added run-scoring singles in the inning.

But Rivera's homer, his 15th, scored Vladimir Guerrero and Casey
Kotchman to tie it at 4 in the fourth.

"In spring training, our goal was to get to the postseason, and
we said anything less than that would be a disappointment," Young
said. "And that's not going to change now. We know that with all
the talent we have in our clubhouse, we hate to waste it by not
playing in the postseason."

Guerrero later doubled in the seventh, extending his hitting
streak against the Rangers to 36 games. The Angels slugger has hit
safely in every game against Texas in his career.

The Angels tacked on another run in the seventh when Rivera
grounded into a double play with the bases loaded, scoring Garret
Anderson. Orlando Cabrera's sacrifice bunt in the eight scored
Chone Figgins to extend the lead to three.

Game notes
Young became the first Rangers slugger to win a batting
title since Julio Franco in 1991. He hit safely in 36 of the last
39 games. ... Figgins stole his major league-leading 62nd base. ...
Scioscia said his lineup will most likely remain "the way we've
been doing it." ... The Rangers didn't homer Sunday but finished
the season with 260, four shy of the major league record set by
Seattle in 1997.