Rangers falter as surging Angels close gap

Rangers falter as surging Angels close gap

Rangers falter as surging Angels close gap
ANAHEIM -- Colby Lewis, in a tied game, had two outs in the seventh and needed one more from the bottom of the Angels' lineup. All he needed was one more out and the Rangers would have the middle of their lineup coming up in the eighth.

Lewis didn't get that last out and the Rangers didn't get out of the inning with the game still tied. Instead, a single, a hit batter and an error by second baseman Ian Kinsler loaded the bases, and Mike Trout followed with a two-run single that lifted the Angels to a 4-2 victory over the Rangers on Friday night.

The Rangers, who led, 2-0, going into the bottom of the sixth, have lost three straight and their lead is down to 4 1/2 games over the surging Angels in the American League West.

"Great ballgame ... we just came up short," catcher Mike Napoli said.

"Colby pitched great," third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "We had some chances early to get a bigger lead with a fly ball or something. We had chances and we didn't take advantage of them."

Josh Hamilton's double and a single by Beltre gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the first against Angels starter Jerome Williams. Singles by Michael Young, David Murphy and Napoli made it 2-0 in the fourth. That was all the Rangers would get, but it also appeared it would be enough for Lewis.

He had a one-hit shutout going into the sixth before the Angels rallied to win for the ninth time in 10 games.

"Lewis is tough," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He pitched a good ballgame. We really didn't get much going offensively, but when we did, we bunched it together and just got some big hits. We were fortunate to have a lead and hold on."

The Angels tied it in the sixth. John Hester, the Angels' light-hitting catcher batting in the ninth spot, got ahead 3-1 in the count and then smacked a leadoff double. Trout brought him home with a triple and Albert Pujols tied the game with a sacrifice fly.

"Colby threw the ball well," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He gave up two runs there, but it's no big deal. It's still a tied ballgame."

The seventh was a big deal, especially because Rangers pitchers, after Lewis got two quick outs, were ahead 0-2 on three straight hitters and all three ended up reaching base. Howie Kendrick started the rally with a grounder up the middle for a two-out single.

"He just squeaked the ball up the middle," Lewis said.

Lewis was ahead 0-2 on Erick Aybar and then hit him with a pitch.

"I jerked a fastball inside," Lewis said. "I was coming inside. I jerked it and hit him."

Washington then went with Alexi Ogando to face Hester and Scioscia countered with Maicer Izturis, a switch-hitter who was 3-for-9 off the Rangers right-handed setup reliever. Ogando, pumping fastballs at 98 mph, got ahead with one strike. Izturis then fouled off five straight pitches and took two sliders for balls. At 2-2 he hit a slow grounder that Kinsler charged and got to in plenty of time.

But he fumbled it for an error.

"I misplayed it and dropped the ball," Kinsler said. "There's nothng else to say. It's a part of baseball. A lot of times I catch that ball. It didn't bounce our way tonight."

"Ogando did his job," Washington said. "He got the ground ball. We just didn't pick it up. He hit it to one of the surest hands in the league and he didn't pick it up. When the ball was hit to him, I thought it was an out."

It wasn't and Izturis was the third straight hitter to reach base despite being down 0-2 in the count.

"I don't get frustrated, but we have to put those guys away," Washington said.

Trout followed with a single to center to bring home two runs and give the Angels a 4-2 lead. He ended up with three RBIs on the night.

"For such a young kid, he's fine being up there in any situation," Scioscia said. "He drove the ball hard to right field a couple times. He just has been such a catalyst for us since he came up in the leadoff spot."

The Rangers were the ones that put him in that particular situation and it cost them.

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