Rangers-Angels Preview

The Associated Press

The Texas Rangers find themselves once again trailing in what's been a back-and-forth AL West race.

Nick Tepesch will try to help the Rangers from losing any more ground in his first start since returning from the disabled list Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels.

Texas (80-61) dropped 1 1/2 games behind Oakland in the division following its fifth loss in six contests and third in a row Saturday. The Angels (67-74) never trailed after Mark Trumbo's two-run homer in the first inning of an 8-3 win, and the Rangers committed a season-high four errors in their fourth loss in the last five road games.

"No matter who we play, it's going to be tough. I don't care if it's the Angels or whoever you want to throw out there," pitcher Derek Holland said. "There's not going to be an easy game from here on out, whether they're a first-place team or a last-place team. We're all competing to get somewhere, and other teams are trying to knock us out.''

Tepesch (4-6, 4.67 ERA) will try to help the Rangers avoid their first sweep in Anaheim since April 2-4, 2007, in his first start since being sidelined with inflammation in his right elbow on July 5. After being activated from the DL last Sunday, the right-hander tossed 3 1-3 scoreless innings of relief in a 4-2 loss in Oakland the next day.

Tepesch has never faced the Angels.

Los Angeles scheduled starter Jason Vargas (8-6, 3.80) has a 2.84 ERA in two starts versus Texas this season but has not received a decision in either game.

A.J. Pierzynski, who had a 127-game errorless streak end Saturday, is 4 for 6 with a triple this season against Vargas.

Adrian Beltre, who is mired in a 1-for-16 slump, is 3 for 24 (.125) all-time versus the left-hander.

Vargas allowed five runs and 10 hits over four-plus innings in a 7-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday after posting a 0.68 ERA in winning his previous two starts.

"I just wasn't able to put anybody away," he said. "It was just the inability to get the ball down late in the count and make quality pitches that got me today."

The Angels are batting .345 with runners in scoring position while going 12-3 since Aug. 23. They've gone 7 for 19 (.368) in the first two games of this series.

Mike Trout has hit safely in 13 of 14 games, batting .412 with 10 walks, while Kole Calhoun has driven in 12 runs in his last 13 contests.

Los Angeles hasn't swept a series from the Rangers since taking a three-game set Sept.19-21, 2008.

Texas hasn't lost four in a row since July 25-28.

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