Sloppy Angels lost 3rd straight at Texas, 7-4
The sloppy conditions of a rain-drenched field at the end didn't really bother Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia.
That sloppy defense? Well, that was a different story.
The Angels had five errors that led to three unearned runs and they lost 7-4 Saturday to the Texas Rangers, who with their sixth straight victory will go into the regular season's scheduled finale still with a chance to get into the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.
''You can't sugar-coat the way we played defense. It was just brutal,'' Scioscia said. ''They were silly mistakes, and it cost us. That's the story of this afternoon.''
Texas trailed only three batters in, but the Angels made five errors in a game for the first time since Sept. 16, 2006, also at Texas. Shortstop Erick Aybar, right fielder Kole Calhoun, left fielder Collin Cowgill, pitcher Garrett Richards and third baseman Andrew Romine had the miscues.
Texas got even with a gift run in the bottom of the first on a grounder through the legs of third baseman Romine. The Angels then made two more errors, and Richards (7-8) threw a wild pitch in the second when the Rangers went ahead for good with four runs, only one of them earned.
The 11:07 a.m. start was the earliest home game in the 42 seasons the Rangers have played in Texas - the game was moved up eight hours because of the threat of bad weather.
The game was played mostly under overcast skies, and there were quick showers while the Rangers batted in the first and fifth innings without any delays. It was a downpour in the ninth after Nathan got two quick outs before Josh Hamilton had a pinch double and Mike Trout walked on a full-count pitch.
Howie Kendrick struck out, ending the game.
Nathan described it as ''basically a lake out there'' when he closed out his 43rd save in 46 chances.
Scioscia thought the conditions might be an advantage for the Angels.
''The toughest thing to do when it's like that is play defense,'' Scioscia said. ''It wasn't that bad at the beginning of the inning, but when it finished up with Howie it was.''
But the weather couldn't be blamed for the errors made by the Angels.
Aybar led off the game with the first of his three doubles, then scored the first of his three runs. He came home on sacrifice flies by Trout in the first and third innings.
The Rangers got even at 1 when Alex Rios hit the grounder under Romine that sent home Ian Kinsler, who had a leadoff single.
Craig Gentry, 15 for 33 the last nine games, had a leadoff double in the second before David Murphy walked and Leonys Martin had the first of his two sacrifice bunts.
Kinsler hit a liner off the upper body of Richards, who grabbed the ball and looked the runner back to third before making an errant throw to first base that allowed a run.
''I kind of went in my armpit and popped out. Literally went in my armpit,'' Richards said. '' Then I just lobbed it over and it kind of cut.''
Rios then had a sac fly and Elvis Andrus, who had singled, scored on a wild pitch that ricocheted only a few feet away from the plate.
The Angels closed to 5-4 in the fifth on doubles by Aybar and Kendrick that chased Derek Holland.
Rios, acquired from the Chicago White Sox after Texas slugger Nelson Cruz was suspended, had a leadoff double in the bottom of the fifth and scored on a single by A.J. Pierzynski, who came home on a safety squeeze bunt that the speedy Gentry turned into an infield hit.
Los Angeles, 23-12 since Aug. 12, had been unbeaten in 10 straight series before losing three of the first four against the Rangers.
If Texas wins the final game Sunday, it will be guaranteed at least a wild-card tiebreaker.
''It doesn't change what we need to do, we need to come in and win a game tomorrow,'' Nathan said. ''We don't want to have to rely on somebody to help us all the time.''
NOTES: Joakim Soria (1-0), who was recovering from elbow ligament surgery when he signed a two-year deal with Texas last offseason, got his first major league victory since July 23, 2011. He struck out two in 1 1-3 scoreless innings in relief. ... Yu Darvish (13-9, 2.82 ERA), the major league leader with 269 strikeouts, starts the finale for Texas. ... The previous earliest home start for the Rangers was two weeks ago, a 12:06 p.m. game vs. Oakland. ... Both teams wore red jerseys. ... Hamilton's 13-game hitting streak is his longest this season.