ANAHEIM — Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli hit back-to-back homers, and Michael Young added a two-run single during a six-run fifth inning as streaking Texas extended its American League West lead over the Los Angeles Angels with an 8-4 victory Monday night.
Ian Kinsler had four hits and scored three runs, and Josh Hamilton added an RBI double in Texas’ fourth straight win. Alexi Ogando (12-5) pitched eight-hit ball into the seventh inning for the Rangers (70-52), who have won nine of 11 while taking a five-game lead over Los Angeles (65-57) atop the division.
Russell Branyan chased Ogando with a two-run, pinch-hit homer.
The Angels, who opened a key nine-game homestand with their fifth loss in six games, lost right-hander Garrett Richards to a strained groin muscle in the first inning of his second Major League start.
Young and Mitch Moreland had three hits apiece for the Rangers, who took an 8-1 lead in the fifth inning. Ogando yielded four runs while becoming the first 12-game winner this season for Texas, which improved to a season-best 18 games over .500 with the defending AL champions’ second-best record after 122 games in franchise history.
Vernon Wells and Maicer Izturis drove in runs as the Angels stumbled home from a disappointing road trip in New York and Toronto, where they lost 2 1⁄2 games of ground in the AL West race.
The Angels, who committed three errors, are Texas’ only remaining competition for the division title. They will face the Rangers nine more times over the clubs’ final 40 games, including the rest of this four-game series and another three-game set in Anaheim late next month.
Richards gave up a run and threw just 19 pitches before limping off the mound with a strained muscle near his right groin. The Angels recalled the hard-throwing rookie from nearby Riverside last week to replace struggling starter Joel Pineiro. He lost his Major League debut at Yankee Stadium before failing to get out of the first inning at Angel Stadium.
Although Jered Weaver’s six-game suspension and Pineiro’s woes hurt Los Angeles last week, offense is undoing the Angels. Even with Torii Hunter hitting around .450 in August, Los Angeles has the majors’ worst batting average since the All-Star break, hitting just .219 entering the homestand.
Bobby Cassevah (1-1) gave up one run while pitching 22⁄3 innings in relief of Richards.
Texas went up 3-1 in the fifth when Hisanori Takahashi fielded a sacrifice bunt and threw it past third base and into the outfield, allowing Moreland to score. After Young drove in two runs, Cruz put his 26th homer down the left-field line against Rich Thompson, and Napoli followed with his 19th homer to center.
The Angels traded Napoli to Toronto last January, and he landed in Texas five days later. While Napoli is having another solid offensive season, Angels catchers Bobby Wilson and Jeff Mathis are both batting under .200.
Cruz left the game in the seventh inning with tightness in his left quadriceps.
Branyan’s pinch-hit homer was his second in five days, following a shot off Mariano Rivera at Yankee Stadium.
NOTES: Hunter extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a second-inning single, scoring on Wells’ double. ... Before Branyan’s two pinch-hit homers, the Angels hadn’t hit a pinch-hit homer since September 2009.