ANAHEIM, Calif. - Andruw Jones had two shots at matching one of baseball’s most famous records.
Jones homered in his first three at-bats of Texas’ 8-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night. He had two shots at becoming the first player in six years to hit four homers in a game, but he popped out and struck out.
“I was thinking about it. I tried. I just didn’t get it done,” Jones said. “I’m just happy we won.”
Rangers manager Ron Washington was impressed with what he saw from Jones.
“I saw Kirby Puckett do some great stuff. I saw Dave Engle do some great stuff. Matter fact, I saw Mickey Hatcher get nine hits in a row — nine straight in three straight days,” Washington said. “This ranks as one of the highest because he got us a win for it.”
The Rangers got to Angels starter Ervin Santana early, with Jones hitting home runs off him in the first and third, the latter sailing over the left field pole to give Texas a 4-0 lead.
Jones added a solo shot in the fifth off reliever Rich Thompson.
“My fastball was way better, and I had good command with my off-speed pitches,” Santana said. “They were very good pitches, but when you’re hot, no matter what a pitcher throws, you’re going to hit it.”
With a chance to tie the major league record for home runs in a game, Jones popped out in the sixth against Kevin Jepsen and struck out against Jason Bulger in the ninth.
In, all the Rangers hit five homers as Tyler Teagarden and Marlon Byrd also connected. That matched a season-high for the Rangers, who regained the divisional lead for the first time since June 26.
It’s the second career three-homer game for Jones, who last did it September 25, 2007, against Philadelphia. He’s also the second player to hit three homers in a game in the last two days. Paul Konerko of the Chicago White Sox went deep three times against Cleveland on Tuesday night.
“Andrew put us on his back and everyone followed,” Washington said.
Jones also had a three-run homer in an 8-5 win over the Angels on Tuesday.
“He’s having a terrific season for them,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s obviously much more comfortable in the batter’s box than he was last year when we saw him with the Dodgers.”
Vicente Padilla (7-4) struck out four and gave up one run in six-plus innings before leaving the game because of a bruised right palm. Pitching on eight days rest, Padilla gave up seven hits against the short-handed Angels, who were missing center fielder Torii Hunter and slugger Vladimir Guerrero because of injuries.
Jason Grilli, Eddie Guardado and Darren O’Day combined to shut out the Angels over the final three innings.
Bobby Abreu drove in the solo run for Los Angeles, which has lost all three series against the Rangers this season.
The oft injured Santana — he’s had two DL stints this season — has failed to show the All-Star form of 2008 when he won 16 games.
“There’s concern. We’ve been talking about this for a while. I’m sure he’s healthy, because if he wasn’t, I don’t think he’d be able to throw the ball 94 miles an hour like he did. He’s hitting 90-94 and he has plenty to pitch with, if you can make some pitches. And that’s what his challenge is right now. He’s not getting the ball where he needs to and not being able to repeat pitches,” Scioscia said.
“It’s simple pitching. It’s getting ahead and putting guys away and tonight he struggled with that. Pitchers are going to go through stages like that, but they still find ways to win. That’s what Ervin is searching for.”
Santana (1-5) had trouble in every inning but the second and allowed Omar Vizquel to score in the third on a wild pitch. He then gave up the homer to Jones, a first-pitch hit that was driven over the left center field wall into the grassy knoll alongside the rocks in center field.
“I was just patient enough to put a good wood on the bat and drive it,” Jones said.
Notes: The last Rangers player to hit three home runs was Brad Wilkerson on July 3, 2007. ... Hunter and Guerrero underwent MRI tests on Wednesday morning for their injuries. Hunter, who is out with a strained adductor, could miss the All-Star game in St. Louis. “It’s cloudy,” Hunter said, “hopefully the next couple of days we’ll see some signs of healing.” ... Angels 1B Kendry Morales extended his career-high 12-game hitting streak when he singled in the second.
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