ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Prince Fielder fought his way out of a slump just the way manager Ron Washington predicted he would – by driving the ball where no shift could get in the way.
Fielder had a pair of RBI doubles to end a drought of 39 at-bats without an extra-base hit, and the Texas Rangers trounced the Los Angeles Angels 14-3 on Sunday.
“I was just trying to go up there with an approach and not really worry about the result. And good results happened today,” the five-time All-Star first baseman said. “I haven’t been pressing, but anytime you’re not doing what you know you can do, it’s definitely frustrating.”
The Rangers built a 5-2 lead after two innings with Fielder’s identical doubles – both line drives over the head of first baseman C.J. Cron and just inside the foul line.
“Prince is seeing the ball much better, and it looked like he’s beginning to get his timing again,” Washington said. “He swung down on the ball today. He’s not attacking. He’s letting the ball come to him, letting his hands work, and then just putting his bat head on it. That shift they used on him wasn’t going to hold none of that stuff he hit today.”
Yu Darvish (2-1) worked into the seventh inning to earn his first victory in almost a month. The right-hander shrugged off first-inning homers by Erick Aybar and Albert Pujols to win for the first time since his season debut on April 6 at Tampa Bay.
“Yu struggled the first couple of innings, but then he found something that worked and settled down,” Washington said.
Darvish allowed three runs, seven hits and no walks in 6 1-3 innings, with nine strikeouts. His teammates scored three more runs than they totaled in his five previous starts combined. J.P. Arencibia hit his first home run and Michael Choice added a three-run shot.
“When you have your ace out there, you want to support him and get him some runs so he can have a breather,” said third baseman Adrian Beltre, who had an RBI single among his three hits. “Today we did that, and hopefully we can do it more often because he always gives us a good chance to win ballgames.”
Darvish is 7-1 with a 3.82 ERA in 11 career starts against the Angels and has won his last six decisions against them.
“He owns us, pretty much,” Pujols said. “That’s how he’s been pitching the last three years I’ve been here. He was being pretty aggressive in the strike zone and he mixed his pitches pretty well. We have to figure out next time how to beat him.”
Pujols shrugged off an 0-2 pitch by Darvish that glanced off the front of his helmet in the fifth inning as he closed his eyes and turned his head to the right. He remained in the game after a trainer checked on him at first base.
“I was just lucky I got out of the way at the right time. I’m just glad nothing crazy happened,” Pujols said. “If he was going to hit me intentionally with the score 9-2, then he’s an idiot. But I don’t think that happened. The ball just slipped out of his hand, and that’s it. Believe me, if I would have known that was on purpose, I would have charged the mound. But I don’t think anything like that happened.”
Angels starter Tyler Skaggs (2-1) lasted 2 2-3 innings in the shortest of his 19 big league starts, giving up six runs.
Arencibia, who hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the first, made it 6-2 in the third with his homer to left-center. Choice, who had four RBIs, increased the margin to 9-2 in the fourth with his homer against Kevin Jepsen.
Alex Rios capped a five-run ninth with a two-out bases-loaded triple against Nick Maronde. All five runs were unearned after right fielder Collin Cowgill dropped Josh Wilson’s flyball for a two-base error.
“We may not put up that many runs every day, but we certainly be more consistent,” Washington said. “Today it was throughout the lineup, which is what we need.”
Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus, who began Sunday in a 4 for 49 slump, was 1 for 3 with a sacrifice fly and a walk after being dropped to ninth in the order for the first time since April 17, 2010.
NOTES: Angels reliever Michael Kohn grazed Shin-Soo Choo with a pitch leading off the fifth. … Pujols’ homer was his 10th this season and 502nd of his career, two shy of Eddie Murray for 25th all-time. … Howie Kendrick flied out to right field all three times he faced Darvish, and is hitless in 19 career at-bats against him.