Griffin sharp early, then quickly unravels

Rangers righty issues three costly walks, can't preserve four-run lead

Griffin sharp early, then quickly unravels

ANAHEIM -- Rangers starter A.J. Griffin was terrific for three innings Monday night, retiring the first nine batters he faced. Griffin, holding a four-run lead, looked ready to do to the Angels what Cole Hamels did to the Cubs on Sunday afternoon.

Then it all changed in the course of 10 pitches. Griffin walked Yunel Escobar and Kole Calhoun to start the fourth and it unraveled from there for the Rangers in a 9-5 loss to the Angels.

All the strange and game-changing plays that followed came after the domino-falling two walks to open the bottom of the fourth.

"I don't know," Griffin said. "It's frustrating, that's pretty much all I can say. You go out there and try your best every time. … I don't know."

The walks allowed Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to bat with runners on base. That's usually not a good thing.

"I don't have a good explanation," manager Jeff Banister said. "I know we didn't throw strikes, You give up two leadoff walks, three in the inning, that will usually lead to runs."

Trout smacked a hard grounder that third baseman Adrian Beltre couldn't come up with and it went for an infield hit to load the bases. Griffin then walked Pujols to force in a run and Daniel Nava's sacrifice fly made it 4-2.

"He's not trying to walk guys," Banister said. "He had been executing pitches on the edges, he just couldn't keep doing it."

Griffin also allowed a home run to Ji-Man Choi in the fifth to make it 4-3 and was charged with two more in the sixth after Calhoun led off with a single and Trout was hit by a pitch. That ended Griffin's night, but both runners ended up scoring.

So instead of a potential breakthrough start for Griffin, he ended up allowing five runs in five-plus innings and is 0-1 with a 6.17 ERA in five starts since coming off the disabled list June 25.

"It's frustrating," Griffin said. "That's the word of the day."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. 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.