Angels blow lead and miss chance to move ahead in AL with 8-7 loss at Texas

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—The celebration is over for the AL West champion Los Angeles Angels. They are in another race before the playoffs now, and have already missed a big chance.

One day after spraying champagne at home for clinching their third division title in four seasons, the Angels quickly lost a lead and dropped an 8-7 game to the last-place Texas Rangers on Monday night.

The clubhouse setting was vastly different this time—with no music playing and players scarce after the game.

While they already have the division title, the Angels (92-65) are still playing for the best record in the American League and home-field advantage through the playoffs. Their 92 victories remained the same as Boston and Cleveland, the other division leaders who were off Monday.

“Nobody’s happy about losing a game anytime,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “After you take the lead, or after a run, to keep the momentum, it’s important for that pitcher to put up a zero. And we weren’t able to do that.”

After a sluggish first few innings against Armando Galarraga in his first major league start, the Angels finally broke through with a five-run outburst in the fifth—only to see Texas regain the lead for good on Marlon Byrd’s two-run homer in the bottom of the inning.

“It was great to get the lead right back,” Byrd said.

Los Angeles didn’t get a hit until Maicer Izturis singled in the fifth. The Angels then scored five runs within a span of six batters to chase Galarraga.

Byrd’s 10th homer made it 6-5, coming after Gerald Laird’s leadoff triple off Ervin Santana (7-14).

“I thought his stuff was good. Obviously, the results weren’t what we had hoped for,” Scioscia said.

“Some pitches weren’t where I wanted and that’s what eventually hurt me,” Santana said. “I don’t feel like it’s a step back at all.”

Santana had won two of his previous three starts, allowing only three earned runs over 18 1-3 innings. He also threw shutout innings in his first relief appearance for the Angels in that stretch. The right-hander will likely pitch out of the bullpen in the postseason.

Travis Metcalf and Nelson Cruz had RBI singles in the consecutive innings off different relievers after Santana left the game to extend the Rangers’ lead to 8-5.

Bill White (2-0) threw 1 1-3 innings in relief of Galarraga. Wes Littleton pitched the ninth for his second save.

Laird finished 3-for-5, lacking only a homer for the cycle, and the catcher also threw out both runners who tried to steal against him. Michael Young moved closer to another 200-hit season, going 2-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs to get to 197 hits.

Young has five games left to reach 200 hits for the fifth straight season. The only other players to do that since 1940 were Wade Boggs and Ichiro Suzuki, who both did it seven straight years, including this season for Suzuki.

Galarraga struck out four and walked four pitching in the spot of Vicente Padilla, who served the fifth of his seven-game suspension for intentionally throwing at Oakland’s Nick Swisher on Aug. 16. Galarraga, who came in the December 2005 trade that sent Alfonso Soriano to Washington, had made two relief appearances this month.

“In the fifth, they made him work,” manager Ron Washington said. “For four innings, he had a no-hitter against a team that has a chance to go to the World Series.”

After Juan Rivera walked to lead off the fifth, Izturis got his hit and Howie Kendrick followed with an RBI double. Chone Figgins hit a sacrifice fly before Orlando Cabrera had an run-scoring single and Casey Kotchman hit his 11th homer, a two-run shot for a 5-4 lead.

Rivera added a two-run double with two outs in the eighth.

“We still came back,” Scioscia said. “Those last six outs, four were rockets. We had our chances to get it done.”

Scioscia said before Monday’s game that right-hander Kelvim Escobar wouldn’t start as expected Tuesday night, giving the 17-game winner more time to rest his shoulder. Dustin Moseley (4-3) will start instead.

Escobar, first pushed back from his scheduled start Saturday because of inflammation in his shoulder, is expected to pitch over the weekend in Oakland.

Young’s three-run homer, his ninth of the season, put Texas up 4-0. He drove in a run with a single after Laird doubled in the first.


Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler took a called third strike to end the fourth, the final pitch coming after extended discussions by home plate umpire Jim Joyce with both managers and the rest of the umpires to confirm that the count was 2-2, not 1-2. … Cruz extend his hitting streak to five games (10-for-19). … Littleton’s other save came when he threw the final three innings in the Rangers’ 30-3 victory at Baltimore in the first game of a doubleheader on Aug. 22.

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