Rangers lose opener in big series with Angels
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — When Elvis Andrus hit his first homer in 83 games off Angels ace Jered Weaver in the first inning, the Texas Rangers must have figured they were in for a special night.
Instead, the Rangers were done scoring, and they ended up giving back a game in the AL West standings.
Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout homered, Weaver pitched seven resilient innings to earn his 12th win, and Los Angeles beat Texas 6-1 on Friday to trim the Rangers’ division lead to five games.
The Rangers had won five of seven before running into Weaver, who yielded six hits and struck out four while improving to 7-0 this season at home. He battled through several jams, getting Josh Hamilton to ground into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the third, and beat the only team that has defeated him all season — although his home ERA rose from a majors-best 0.58 to 0.67.
“It’s always a battle every time we face him,” said Michael Young, who went 0-for-4. “We always try to make him work, but he did a good job of getting himself out of some jams. … We’re not thinking about stuff like (the division race), man. We’re thinking about trying to win a game that night. We don’t care what the lead is. We don’t care if we’re ahead or behind. We’re trying to win every game we play.”
The Angels are thinking about the AL West race, however.
Erick Aybar hit a two-run double and Howie Kendrick drove in two early runs as Los Angeles looked sharp and hungry in just its third win in eight games since the All-Star break.
“We’re only five games back now, so it’s real big,” said Trout, who scored a run in his 12th straight game, one off the AL rookie record. “Every game against them down the stretch is going to be big. We’re going to play them a lot, so we just have to keep making plays.”
The Rangers couldn’t solve Weaver to keep pace with the Angels, and their biggest bat has been mostly silent lately. Hamilton eventually slowed his 4-for-34 skid with an eighth-inning single.
“A little bit of a slide? How about the last month and a half?” Hamilton asked. “I mean, you’ve got periods like this during the season, and if you don’t, you’ve had a season that you might not ever have again. But I’m starting to come out of it. I’m still tinkering with a couple of different things. It’s not a big deal, mechanically wise. But you saw tonight, I was chasing the curveball.”
Texas entered the series with the majors’ second-best record and a six-game lead, its largest of July. The Rangers have won the last two division titles and AL pennants, usurping the Angels atop the division they had won in five of the previous six years.
And this series is just the start of what could be a scintillating stretch run out West: The rivals meet 10 more times after this weekend.
Trumbo hit his 27th homer and Trout added his 15th, while Weaver (12-1) persevered through 116 pitches and repeated trouble to win his sixth straight start and seventh consecutive decision since May 13, when Texas beat him.
“I’ve learned over the years that you can’t try to pump yourself up before a game,” Weaver said. “But obviously it’s exciting when the fans are pumped. You’re going against your division rival and trying to pick up some games against them, and the best way to do that is to beat them.”
Derek Holland (6-5) lost his first decision since May 30, giving up nine hits and six runs with no strikeouts. He gave up Trumbo’s sixth homer in nine days after an 11-pitch at-bat, culminating in a fearsome line drive over the fence in left-center in the sixth.
“If it had hit the wall, it would have taken it down,” Holland said. “I mean, he made solid contact. He was right on it.”
Trout chased Holland with a two-out, opposite-field homer in the seventh.
NOTES: Texas still has the second-best record in franchise history through 92 games (55-37). … No AL rookie had scored a run in 12 straight games since Don Lenhardt, who shares the record with 13 straight, did it in 1950. … Angels OF Vernon Wells began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake, going 1-for-3 with a double.