The Texas Rangers find themselves once again trailing in what's been a back-and-forth AL West race.
Texas (80-61) dropped 1 1/2 games behind Oakland in the division following its fifth loss in six contests and third in a row Saturday. The Angels (67-74) never trailed after Mark Trumbo 's two-run homer in the first inning of an 8-3 win, and the Rangers committed a season-high four errors in their fourth loss in the last five road games."No matter who we play, it's going to be tough. I don't care if it's the Angels or whoever you want to throw out there," pitcher Derek Holland said. "There's not going to be an easy game from here on out, whether they're a first-place team or a last-place team. We're all competing to get somewhere, and other teams are trying to knock us out."
Tepesch (4-6, 4.67 ERA) will try to help the Rangers avoid their first sweep in Anaheim since April 2-4, 2007, in his first start since being sidelined with inflammation in his right elbow on July 5. After being activated from the DL last Sunday, the right-hander tossed 3 1-3 scoreless innings of relief in a 4-2 loss in Oakland the next day.
Tepesch has never faced the Angels.
Los Angeles scheduled starter Jason Vargas (8-6, 3.80) has a 2.84 ERA in two starts versus Texas this season but has not received a decision in either game.
A.J. Pierzynski, who had a 127-game errorless streak end Saturday, is 4 for 6 with a triple this season against Vargas.
Adrian Beltre , who is mired in a 1-for-16 slump, is 3 for 24 (.125) all-time versus the left-hander.
Vargas allowed five runs and 10 hits over four-plus innings in a 7-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday after posting a 0.68 ERA in winning his previous two starts.
"I just wasn't able to put anybody away," he said. "It was just the inability to get the ball down late in the count and make quality pitches that got me today."
The Angels are batting .345 with runners in scoring position while going 12-3 since Aug. 23. They've gone 7 for 19 (.368) in the first two games of this series.
Los Angeles hasn't swept a series from the Rangers since taking a three-game set Sept.19-21, 2008.
Texas hasn't lost four in a row since July 25-28.
|August 25, 2013||Leonys Martin||Day-to-Day||Sprained right ankle|
|August 20, 2013||Matt West||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|August 14, 2013||Alexi Ogando||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|August 14, 2013||Alexi Ogando||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|August 03, 2013||Nelson Cruz||Day-to-Day||Lower body|
|July 12, 2013||Justin Grimm||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right forearm|
|Los Angeles Angels|
|September 08, 2013||Luis Jimenez||Day-to-Day||Left game - right thumb contusion|
|August 29, 2013||Chris Nelson||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|August 28, 2013||Chris Nelson||Day-to-Day||Strained right hamstring|
|August 22, 2013||Kevin Jepsen||15-Day DL||Appendectomy|
|August 19, 2013||Mike Trout||Day-to-Day||Tight right hamstring|
|August 13, 2013||Erick Aybar||Day-to-Day||Left calf cramp|
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The Texas Rangers needed a reason to feel good about themselves on getaway day before starting a pivotal six-game homestand that includes a series against the team they're fighting for the AL West title.
They got it from a bullpen that ate up 5 2-3 innings and prevented a three-game sweep by the Los Angeles Angels , a team they will face in a four-game series that wraps up the regular season schedule.
Alex Rios homered in the first and drove in the go-ahead run with a bloop double in the seventh, Elvis Andrus also had two RBIs, and the Rangers hung on for a 4-3 victory Sunday. They remained 1 1-2 games out of first place, as Oakland beat Houston 7-2.
"It was a very big win. We needed it bad," manager Ron Washington said. "They took the lead, but we didn't give in. We just kept fighting and were able to make some good things happen. It's only one win, but it was huge."
Angels rookie Buddy Boshers walked Leonys Martin with one out in the seventh and Ian Kinsler greeted Michael Kohn (1-2) with a ground-rule double into the left field corner.
Andrus followed with a looper into right-center and was robbed of a hit on a diving catch by right fielder Kole Calhoun , but Martin scored the tying run on the sacrifice fly.
"You've got to find a way to win games, and sometimes it's going to be with bloopers," Andrus said. "It was a tremendous play by Martin, to be able to read that flyball and the fielder at the same time and then tag up."
Center fielder Mike Trout then attempted a diving catch on another Texas leaguer by Rios in left-center, but missed it as Kinsler scored.
"You could call it a break," Washington said. "Sometimes in a game, you need breaks. But you make your breaks by making contact. And when you make contact, things can happen."
Alexi Ogando (6-4) got the victory with 1 1-3 scoreless innings.
Neal Cotts gave up a leadoff double in the eighth to Calhoun, who advanced on Mark Trumbo 's groundout and was stranded when Tanner Scheppers struck out Hank Conger with the infield in and retired Grant Green on a flyball to center.
"Trumbo hits the ball to the right side to get the runner to third, and I'm sitting there and saying: `We need a strikeout here,"' Washington said. "We got the strikeout, then he made Green put the ball in play and we got a line drive to Martin. There was the good inning right there, and we certainly needed that."
Joe Nathan , the seventh Rangers pitcher, got three outs in the ninth for his 39th save in 41 attempts and helped them avoid what would have been the Angels' first three-game sweep against them since September 2009.
"Fortunately we've got 12 or 13 guys out there in the `pen, so we've got plenty of arms to stretch it out," Nathan said. "We feel confident in all of those guys - not just to bring them out in the fourth and fifth inning, but to come in late in the game in tight situations. We love when our starters go deep - but when this is what we need to do on a given day, we're more than glad to do that. We've got guys with experience who know how to throw the baseball."
Rangers rookie Nick Tepesch was charged with two runs and four hits in 3 1-3 innings and struck out five in his first start off the disabled list, after pitching 3 1-3 innings out of the bullpen at Oakland last Monday in his first relief outing in the big leagues. The 24-year-old right-hander was winless in eight consecutive starts before beating Houston on July 5, then was sidelined with inflammation in his elbow.
Tepesch was lifted after 63 pitches with a runner at first and the score tied 1-all. Trumbo was held at third on Conger's double to left field, and subsequently erased in a rundown on Green's fielder's choice grounder to third baseman Adrian Beltre . But No. 9 hitter Andrew Romine lined the next pitch down the left field line for a two-run double that put the Angels ahead 3-1.
The Rangers got one of the runs back in the fifth on an Andrus' RBI single against Jason Vargas , who allowed two runs and six hits over six innings and struck out eight.
Rios, the third batter Vargas faced, homered to left-center for his 16th this season and fourth against the Halos. Kole Calhoun tied it with his sixth of the season leading off the second.
"You never know where numbers are going to end up for a young player, but there's absolutely no doubt that he has the ability to drive the ball," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's a strong little guy. What his numbers will end up being, that's just going to be a function of him just continuing to put good swings on the ball."
NOTES: Rangers opening day starter Matt Harrison , whose season ended after his second outing on April 6 because of back problems that required surgery twice in a span of nine days to repair a herniated disc, is scheduled to undergo Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery on his right side in Dallas on Monday. Harrison missed the final three months of the 2009 campaign because of the same ailment, then won 18 games last season to tie Kenny Rogers ' 2004 club record for left-handers. ... Andrus stole his 36th and 37th bases, tying his career best from 2011.