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Angels can't pull off great escape and lose, 4-3

Rangers' Ian Kinsler gets a two-out, bases-loaded hit off Ervin Santana in eighth inning. Texas leads by seven games in AL West.

August 17, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna

The Angels needed to stop the bleeding Wednesday night, and in right-hander Ervin Santana, one of baseball's most dominant pitchers since early July, they had the perfect tourniquet.

Or so they thought. As good as Santana has been, he could not prevent the Texas Rangers from winning the third game of a critical four-game series.

One strike away from escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the eighth inning, Santana gave up a broken-bat, two-run, tiebreaking single to Ian Kinsler, and the Rangers held on for a 4-3 victory in Angel Stadium.

Texas, which has won 11 of its last 13 games, pushed its American League West lead to seven games over the Angels, who have lost seven of eight and have dropped 51/2 games in the standings in a week.

"There's still a lot of baseball left," second baseman Howie Kendrick said amid an extremely subdued Angels clubhouse. "Everybody knows what [the deficit] is, but you try not to pay attention to it and go out and play.

"We have seven games left against these guys, and we have a lot of other teams to play. It's going to come down to the last month. It's tough, but you have to keep battling, keep playing hard. We're not going to lay down for anybody."

Nor are the Rangers, as they showed Wednesday, coming back from a 2-0 first-inning deficit to make a winner of ace C.J. Wilson, who gave up two runs — one earned — and five hits in seven innings to improve to 12-5.

With the score tied, 2-2, Texas loaded the bases with no out in the eighth when Nelson Cruz walked, Mike Napoli doubled to left-center and Mitch Moreland was intentionally walked.

Santana, who was 5-0 with an earned run average of 0.84 and a no-hitter in his previous five starts, struck out Yorvit Torrealba on a full-count slider and Endy Chavez on a slider in the dirt.

But on Santana's career-high 129th pitch of the game, a 2-and-2 slider to the outside of the plate, Kinsler reached out and dunked his decisive hit into shallow left field for a 4-2 lead.

The Angels pulled to within 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth when Kendrick hit a solo home run off Texas reliever Koji Uehara.

They moved the potential tying run to third with two out in the ninth when Mark Trumbo singled off closer Neftali Feliz and took second and then third on a pair of groundouts. But Feliz got Erick Aybar to fly to right for his 24th save.

"The game came down to a break, and we didn't get it," Angels Manager Mike Scio-

scia said, referring to Kinsler's hit. "It was a great pitch. Give Kinsler credit for getting wood on it.

"When you're playing well, you're making our own breaks and you're able to absorb a break like a hit falling in. When you're not playing at a high enough level, and we haven't been, at times you're looking for that break to win a game."

The Angels took their first lead of the series in the first inning when Peter Bourjos tripled and scored on Kendrick's groundout. Torii Hunter reached on an error and scored on Trumbo's double for a 2-0 lead.

The Angels made three fine defensive plays in the second, third and fourth innings, but Aybar, the team's usually sure-handed shortstop, bobbled Elvis Andrus' fifth-inning grounder and threw the ball into the first-base dugout for a two-base error.

Andrus scored on Josh Hamilton's single to center to pull Texas within 2-1, and Moreland led off the sixth with his 14th home run of the season, a shot into the right-center field seats, to make it 2-2.

"We didn't play well defensively — I think guys were pressing a little bit out there," Scioscia said. "Erick Aybar is as good as they come at shortstop, and he had a rough game tonight."

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