Rangers aim to 'play hard' with title in sight

Rangers aim to 'play hard' with title in sight

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers asked closer Shawn Tolleson well before Friday's game, a 2-1 loss, if he would be available for the fourth straight night. Tolleson assured them that he was ready to go.

"I did feel good," Tolleson said. "I had good stuff. Things just didn't work out."

No, they did not. With the score tied, Tolleson entered the game in the ninth inning, and promptly gave up a leadoff triple to Mike Trout and a run-scoring single to Albert Pujols that gave the Angels the victory before a sellout crowd.

The loss kept the Rangers from clinching the American League West. They still need one more victory in their final two games to nail down the division, with Colby Lewis pitching on Saturday and Cole Hamels on Sunday. The Rangers could also clinch with one win by the D-backs over the Astros in the final weekend.

"We're good," first baseman Mitch Moreland said. "We're still right where we want to be. We've got two games left, we'll keep playing hard and keep having fun."

Statcast: Choo's great grab

"These guys have done the job responding to situations like this," manager Jeff Banister said. "I felt like we played well, but we only had one run. I don't consider this a setback at all. We'll come back tomorrow and continue to play with the same energy."

Starter Martin Perez responded to the pressure of the big game by allowing one run in the first inning, then retiring 19 of the last 21 batters he faced. But the Rangers only scored one run -- on a homer in the fourth inning by Shin-Soo Choo -- in six innings against Angels starter Jered Weaver.

Sam Dyson, who was also pitching for the fourth straight day, retired the side in order in the eighth. Banister wanted Tolleson for the ninth against Trout, Pujols and C.J. Cron.

"Tie ballgame, essentially the stretch of hitters we need to get out," Banister said. "He is our guy. He has been our guy. We communicated with him, and he said he felt good."

"This part of the season, I don't think twice about going out there," Tolleson said. "Sam had also gone out there four straight games. He and I didn't think twice. We want to be in that position."

Tolleson got a first-pitch fastball over for a strike. He threw another, and Trout drove it into the gap in right-center for a triple.

"I was trying to go down and away," Tolleson said. "I got it away, but it was mid-away. He did a good job of staying back and going the other way."

Pujols followed with his RBI single, and the Rangers couldn't respond.

"That was a really good ballgame," catcher Chris Gimenez said. "Some great plays on both sides and some missed opportunities on both sides. We like our position, there is no panic button. Would it have been nice to get the win? Yeah. But we still have two more to go."

And the first will be at noon on Saturday.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.