Beltre’s four hits set the tone, but Rangers’ rally falls short

Texas Rangers' Adrian Beltre connects for an RBI single scoring Elvis Andrus against the Los Angeles Angels during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. The Angels won 5-4.

Jim Cowsert/AP

ARLINGTON, Texas – There have been nights in this long, long season for the Rangers when a 4-1 deficit in the fifth would have been insurmountable.

Friday night, led by the indomitable Adrian Beltre, the Rangers fought back and fell a run short of the contending Los Angeles Angels, 5-4.

A three-run rally in the eighth, highlighted by RBI singles from Beltre and Mike Carp, gave the Rangers hope.

Beltre drove in another run earlier on his way to a four-hit night. He also broke up a double play with a hard slide into second base during the eighth inning rally, forcing a throwing error that allowed a run to score.

"The last couple of innings we were trying to come back. A couple of good hits, good at-bats, but we weren’t able to finish the job," Beltre said. "Obviously it feels good when you’re trying to come back that way and we got good at-bats."

When closer Feliz Struck out Josh Hamilton with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth – Hamilton’s fourth K of the night – it looked like the Rangers might somehow finish the comeback.

Angels closer Huston Street suffocated that notion with a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth. But the fight shown by the Rangers, and in particular Beltre, wasn’t lost on manager Ron Washington.

"If he doesn’t do that (slide hard into second base), they turn the double play," Washington said. "That’s the way you play, and Adrian exemplifies that every single day."

The Rangers struck first when Shin-Soo Choo led off the bottom of the first with a single, then was plated by an Adrian Beltre single. Then the Rangers managed only two hits over the next five innings against Angels starter Garrett Richards (13-4).

The Angels answered in the third inning when a Mike Trout sacrifice fly plated Chris Iannetta.

Rangers starter Nick Martinez (2-9) struck out six in six innings but made a critical mistake in the fifth inning.

Martinez got into trouble by giving up back-to-back hits to the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, David Freese and Iannetta, to start the inning. That set the table for  Kole Calhoun, who lauched a 413-foot blast into the upper deck of the home run porch in right field for a 4-1 Angels lead.

Jon Edwards, just called up from Triple-A, became the twelfth different Ranger to make his major league debut this season when he took the mound in the eighth. The Keller High School product faced four batters and got two outs, including a strikeout of Erick Aybar.

"He showed you what he’s made of when he dropped that breaking ball in on Aybar," Washington said. "That was gutsy right there."

Edwards took the spot of Robbie Ross Jr., who was optioned back to Triple-A Round Rock after taking the loss in a spot start Thursday against Tampa Bay.

"I don’t think I was as nervous as I thought I would be," said Edwards, who had about 15 family members in attendance. "It was kind of surreal, I guess, having Albert Pujols step into the box as the first hitter you’re facing."

Edwards got Pujols to pop up to the catcher. He gave up a hit to Josh Hamilton and a walk to Howie Kendrick before ending his night with the strikeout.

With Edwards’ debut, the Rangers have used 57 players, 36 pitchers this season, both club records.

The Rangers are two shy of the major league record for players (59 by three different teams) and one shy of the 2002 Padres’ record of 37 pitchers used in a season.

Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire