Adrian Beltre runs the bases while Elvis Andrus, right, celebrates his… (Ronald Martinez / Getty…)
ARLINGTON, Texas — A crucial seven-game trip to Oakland and Texas began with such promise July 25, the Angels busting out for eight runs to beat the first-place Athletics and pull to within 10 games in the American League West.
Then the losses began to mount.
The Angels lost the next six games, the last three on walk-off home runs by the Rangers, including Adrian Beltre's ninth-inning solo shot against Michael Kohn (1-1) that gave Texas a 2-1 victory Wednesday night and kept the Angels 14 games back in the division.
BOX SCORE: Texas 2, Angels 1
The Angels had never lost three games in a row on walk-off home runs, and the last team to sweep a three-game series on walk-off home runs was Arizona, which did it against Montreal on May 10-12, 1999.
The Angels also lost slugger Albert Pujols (foot) and reliever Sean Burnett (elbow) to season-ending injuries on the trip and reliever Scott Downs (to Atlanta) and third baseman Alberto Callaspo (to Oakland) in trades.
Right-hander Ernesto Frieri lost his confidence and his grip on the closer job, Manager Mike Scioscia saying he will "mix and match" in the ninth inning.
And there was heavy speculation before Wednesday's nonwaiver trade deadline that the Angels might lose shortstop Erick Aybar, second baseman Howie Kendrick or first baseman Mark Trumbo, about whom the Angels, in a selling mode, fielded numerous trade inquiries.
But General Manager Jerry Dipoto could not get the kind of high-end starting pitching he was seeking, and Aybar, who was linked mostly to St. Louis, Kendrick, who was pursued by Toronto and Kansas City, and Trumbo, who was targeted by several clubs, including Pittsburgh, remained.
"We were very aggressive in our search for young, major league-ready, controllable pitching, which is very difficult to acquire," Dipoto said, adding that the speculation surrounding his players was "fairly accurate." The Angels also pursued Arizona right-hander Ian Kennedy, who was traded to San Diego.
The Angels have suffered numerous breakdowns in the rotation and bullpen, but they got a solid start Wednesday from Jerome Williams, who gave up one run and eight hits, including Nelson Cruz's second-inning home run, in 7 2/3 innings.
Catcher Chris Iannetta helped Williams by picking off Elvis Andrus at first base in the first inning and Geovany Soto at second base in the third, and Josh Hamilton hit a score-tying home run in the seventh.
But Kohn left a fastball up and over the middle to Beltre, who deposited it into the left-field seats.
"Make mistakes in the big leagues, guys make you pay — that's how the last three games have gone," Kohn said. "But we're going to climb out of this. We've hit a rut. That's how the game goes. It knocks you down. The only thing you can do is get back up."
The Angels, who held a lengthy team meeting before the game, had leads in five of the six games they lost on the trip, the bullpen suffering five losses and four blown saves and compiling an 11.34 earned-run average.
"We could have been 7-0 on this trip," Scioscia said. "At times we lost leads, at times we didn't get it done, but the bottom line is winning games, and we didn't do enough."