Teixeira goes 3-for-3, homers as West-best Angels stop Central-leading Twins

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- If anyone thought the Los Angeles Angels were just biding their time until the playoffs came around, they needed to look no further than the efforts of Mark Teixeira and Torii Hunter.

Teixeira went 3-for-3 with a home run and Hunter make two more electrifying plays in center field, helping the Angels beat Minnesota 7-5 Saturday night and snap the Twins' four-game winning streak.

"I don't think that we were just going through the motions before," Teixeira said after the Angels won for just the third time in 10 games. "I mean, we were losing tough games, and yesterday's was the first one where we just got blown out.

"Tonight we got up early and got the focus back. We're not going to be too hard on ourselves if we lose a few tough games, but there's nobody in here who's going out there not caring if we win or lose," he said.

Teixeira and Vladimir Guerrero each drove in two runs for the Angels in the matchup of AL division leaders. Francisco Rodriguez earned his major league-leading 49th save, combining with Darren Oliver (5-1) and Scot Shields for 4 2/3 scoreless innings of two-hit relief.

The Angels staked Jon Garland to a 6-1 lead through four innings, but the right-hander never made it out of the fifth as the Twins rallied for four runs.

Oliver then took over, shutting down Minnesota on one hit for 2 2/3 innings. Shields pitched a perfect eighth and Rodriguez closed, leaving him eight shy of Bobby Thigpen's big league saves record.

Nick Blackburn (9-8) allowed six runs -- three earned -- and 10 hits over 4 2/3 innings.

Two errors by third baseman Brian Buscher helped the Angels score four runs in the third, snapping their shutout streak at 22 innings. The Twins intentionally walked Teixeira with one out to load the bases for Guerrero, who drove the next pitch over the head of center fielder Carlos Gomez for a two-run double.

"That was supposed to be a sac fly. He just misplayed it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That's an out in any man's game. Most guys catch that ball."

Guerrero tied a dubious franchise record when he bounced into double plays in the first and fourth innings. That gave him a major league-worst 26 double-play grounders this season, equaling Lyman Bostock's total with the 1978 Angels. Gardenhire was hoping for another when he walked Teixeira ahead of Guerrero his second time up.

"Teixeira's just absolutely killing everything we throw and he's on every pitch," Gardenhire said. "You look at the stats and they say Vladdy hits into some double plays, so you've got to take a chance. But that's pick-your-poison right there. I would bet you wouldn't want to do that too many times a year -- walk anybody to get to Vladdy."

Teixeira gave the Angels a 7-5 lead in the sixth with a solo homer, his 26th overall this season and sixth since coming over in a trade from Atlanta on July 29. He connected off Boof Bonser, hitting a drive that bounced off the top of the low fence in right field and into the seats.

"In the past, I'd gotten a couple of hits off his offspeed pitches. But tonight I noticed that his fastball was working really well. So I was just looking for something hard the entire at-bat," Teixeira said.

Giving a big lead, Garland hit Gomez to load the bases with no outs in the fifth. Denard Span had to settle for a sacrifice fly when Hunter made a leaping catch on the warning track. Alexei Casilla walked, AL batting leader Joe Mauer hit a two-run single that that extended his career-best hitting streak to 15 games and Justin Morneau had an RBI groundout.

Hunter also robbed Jason Kubel of extra bases with a diving catch in left-center in the eighth. He had to something to erase the memory of Thursday night's loss, when he missed catching Nick Punto's triple at the wall and Punto ended up scoring the deciding run.

"I didn't even think about Thursday at all. I just went out and played my game," Hunter said. "Maybe once or twice a year I have a little fluke like that. I'm human, and that kind of humbles me a little bit. Today I felt rejuvenated and ready to go.

"I think a day out of the outfield yesterday [as the DH] kind of helped me a little bit and I was able to run today," Hunter added. "I didn't have any hits, so I made sure nobody else wound have any."

Casilla homered leading off the fourth. The Angels responded in the bottom half with RBI singles by Erick Aybar and Teixeira.

Game notes
Morneau is the only Twins player to have appeared in all 129 games. He needs to drive in one more run to join Harmon Killebrew as the only players in Twins history with three consecutive 100-RBI seasons.