ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Mike Trout doesn't go fishing for compliments. The way he's been playing for the Los Angeles Angels, it's unavoidable, though.
Trout hit an RBI triple in the sixth inning, a tiebreaking two-run single in the seventh and saved two runs with his spectacular speed in the outfield, leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 4-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday night.
"When you've got that much speed — and plate discipline — it's not surprising to us," right fielder Torii Hunter said. "The thing that's more impressive to me is the plate discipline and the clutch hits. And his speed can make up for bad routes in the outfield. I like him a lot."
Hunter isn't the only one.
"He's a good player — a real good player," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He's got speed, a little pop in that bat, and he makes contact. He's an exciting-looking little player."
Jerome Williams (5-3) allowed two runs and seven hits over seven innings and struck out four against the AL West leaders.
The Angels won for the ninth time in 11 games, reducing the Rangers' AL West lead over Los Angeles to 4 1-2 games after they trailed by as many as nine games on April 30.
A seventh-inning error by Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler helped the Angels score two unearned runs. Lewis gave up a two-out single to Howie Kendrick and hit Erick Aybar with an 0-2 pitch before Alexi Ogando came in and got pinch-hitter Maicer Izturis to hit a grounder that Kinsler misplayed. Trout then singled to center.
"I just had a feeling I was going to come through," Trout said. "You always want to be in that situation with bases loaded. But in that spot, I've just got to tell myself not to be too big — not try to hit a home run and fly out. I just kept things short, stayed within myself and hit the ball up the middle. The pitch got in on me a little bit, but I stayed on it long enough. It was definitely a big hit for me and for the team. I'm having a blast, and it's from winning."
Scott Downs pitched a scoreless eighth and Ernesto Frieri pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts for his third save in as many chances. The right-hander has not allowed a hit in 13 innings since joining the Angels in a trade with San Diego on May 3, and has fanned 27 of the 50 batters he's faced.
Colby Lewis (4-4) was charged with four runs — two earned — and four hits in 6 2-3 innings.
Lewis had allowed just one hit and took a 2-0 lead into the sixth before the Angels tied it. Ninth-place hitter John Hester led off with a ground-rule double, Trout followed with his triple off the right-field wall and Albert Pujols hit a sacrifice fly.
The Rangers, beginning a 10-game California trip, threatened to regain the lead in the seventh after third baseman Alberto Callaspo misplayed Nelson Cruz's leadoff grounder for his second error of the season and Kinsler hit a ground-rule double with two out. But Williams escaped the jam with the help of Trout, who raced toward the warning track in center field and reached over his head to grab Elvis Andrus' bid for extra bases after playing him shallow.
"It's always good to make that big play for your pitcher, and get a big hit for the offense, so it's tough to choose which one is bigger," Trout said. "It's different each day, but every chance I get I want to be aggressive."
The Rangers scored their runs on RBI singles by Adrian Beltre and former Angel Mike Napoli in the first and fourth innings. Williams retired 10 of his first 18 batters, retiring No.9 hitter Mike Moreland on inning-ending double-play grounders in the second and fourth, after Cruz and David Murphy got themselves into scoring position with stolen bases.
"I thought Williams made some adjustments from the last time we faced him," Washington said. "He kept the ball inside on us and he was cutting it a lot. We still had some opportunities, but he made some pitches when he had to and didn't make very many mistakes. Twice we had runners in scoring position and we hit into double plays. So we certainly put ourselves in position to put more than two runs on the board."
Lewis retired his first 10 batters before giving up a single to Callaspo and a walk to Pujols. But the right-hander came back to strike out Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo, whose four-game home run streak ended one shy of the franchise record set by Bobby Bonds in 1977.
NOTES: Rangers president Nolan Ryan, who pitched four of his record seven no-hitters with the Angels, threw out a ceremonial first pitch. Friday was the 37th anniversary of his fourth no-hitter for the Halos, a 1-0 win against Baltimore at the "Big A." ... Ryan was part of the most one-sided trade in Angels history on December 10, 1971, when he was acquired from the New York Mets with three minor leaguers for Jim Fregosi. "I see him periodically because he's scouting, but he managed me in '79 here, so we've kind of gone past that," Ryan said. "We've both been in the game so long, and we know that's just part of it. I've never really talked to him about it. The Mets got him with a need and a purpose of putting him at third base, thinking they might fill a hole that they had, and the Angels at that time were looking for bodies and some people with some upside." ... OF Kole Calhoun beat Rangers LHP Robbie Ross in the Angels' annual cow-milking contest, a staple of baseball that goes all the way back to Ryan's early years with the Mets in the late 1960s. "I beat Willie Stargell once — just blew him away," Ryan said with a grin. "It was embarrassing how little he had in his pail. I think his stroke was too long. I don't think I won anything except bragging rights, and I'm still bragging about that. But I can tell you this: After the Willie Stargell deal, I really didn't participate in it after that because it made my forearm sore for about a week."