ARLINGTON, Texas — C.J. Cron didn’t think his line drive with two outs in the ninth inning would get over the left field fence in fair territory Saturday night.
“I thought it might have hooked foul or it might have been a double,” the Los Angeles Angels first baseman said. “But when I rounded first, I saw (Texas left fielder Delino) DeShields had his hands on his knees.
“I thought, ‘Wow! I guess that one got out.’ It was pretty cool.”
The two-run homer, Cron’s 13th of the season, tied the game. Los Angeles went on to beat the Rangers 7-4 with three runs in the 10th.
Texas rookie right-hander Jose Leclerc (2-3) walked the only three batters he faced to load the bases with no outs. Kole Calhoun hit a looping line drive to left field against another rookie righty, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, to drive in two runs. The third scored on a sacrifice fly by Cron.
Los Angeles remained 1 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the AL’s second wild card berth. Texas fell to four games behind the Twins.
“With this situation, every game’s important for us,” Rangers designated hitter Shin-Soo Choo said. “Especially against the Angels. It’s tough to lose.”
Cron stepped to the plate in the ninth against still another rookie right-hander, Ricky Rodriguez. He needed one out to preserve a 4-2 lead, but Luis Valbuena kept the Angels alive with a double to right-center.
Cron had struck out in his first three at-bats.
“I tend to look pretty bad some at-bats, but fortunately enough I was able to get enough swing on that last pitch,” he said.
From the dugout, Angels manager Mike Scioscia tried to follow the flight of Cron’s liner.
“I knew it was fair, but I didn’t think DeShields could catch it. From my vantage point, it’s kind of a tough angle, but the whole dugout exploded,” he said.
Rangers closer Alex Claudio was not available because he had pitched the previous two days.
“The pitchers we deployed out of the bullpen were the ones available to us,” manager Jeff Banister said. “It was one of those situations where (Rodriguez) went down into Cron’s zone.”
Yusmeiro Petit (4-0), the fifth Los Angeles pitcher, earned the win with a perfect ninth inning, and Blake Parker worked a hitless 10th inning for his fifth save in seven opportunities.
Carlos Gomez homered and scored twice for Texas. He led off the second inning with his 17th homer and led off the fourth with a double. Joey Gallo singled home Gomez for a 3-1 lead.
For the Angels’ first two runs, Mike Trout doubled and scored on a two-out single by Albert Pujols. He has 21 RBIs in his last 19 games.
Each starting pitcher went 5 2/3 innings. The Rangers’ A.J. Griffin allowed two runs, and Ricky Nolasco gave up three for Los Angeles. Nolasco struck out six to reach 1,500 for his career.
After the Angels’ Justin Upton singled with one out in the eighth, Pujols hit a grounder up the middle against Tony Barnette. Shortstop Elvis Andrus dived to stop the ball and flipped it with his glove to Rougned Odor. The second baseman caught the ball in his bare hand and threw to first base for a spectacular inning-ending double play.
Angels: RHP Garrett Richards, on the disabled list since April because of a strained biceps, threw a bullpen before Saturday’s game. Scioscia said Richards will be activated to start on Tuesday at Oakland. “You’re obviously not going to see him throw 100 pitches,” the manager said.
Angels: LHP Andrew Heaney (1-0, 5.63) will make his fourth start of the season in the series’ final game on Sunday. Heaney allowed one run in six innings for a win in his previous start Monday against Oakland.
Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (10-10, 4.89) will start the rubber game. He leads Texas in wins, and has won his last five starts.