Rangers-Angels Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Angels picked up some ground in the postseason race by beating the Texas Rangers in the series opener.

Unless C.J. Wilson can figure out his former team, they may lose it just as quickly.

The left-hander seeks his first victory in five tries against Texas when the Angels host the second game of this crucial series Wednesday night.

Los Angeles (81-67) routed the Rangers 11-3 on Tuesday to pull within 3 1/2 games of AL wild card-leading Oakland, and its even closer to Baltimore for the second-wild card spot.

Erick Aybar had three hits for the Angels, who have won 15 of 20 and improved to 8-6 this season against West-leading Texas, though they still trail the Rangers by 6 1/2 games.

''We're at the point in the year when we just have to win,'' said Chris Iannetta, who had a two-run single in an eight-run fourth inning. ''We need to find a way. Texas, Oakland, Baltimore, they're all in the drivers' seat, but we've been on a real good three-week stretch. We just have to keep working.''

Texas manager Ron Washington said his club fell apart in that wild fourth.

''It got out of control,'' Washington said. ''We just couldn't get any outs. It was a fight the whole time, and in that fourth inning, they just took the game away from us.''

Wilson (12-9, 3.73 ERA) helped the Rangers win the last two AL championships, but he bolted in the offseason for a long-term deal with the Angels. He's faced his former team four times, going 0-1 with a 7.27 ERA.

He allowed a season-worst eight runs in 5 1-3 innings of Los Angeles' 15-9 defeat Aug. 2 in the most recent outing. Wilson's best start against the Rangers came in the only matchup in Anaheim, when he pitched six scoreless innings in the Angels' 3-2 victory June 2.

The Angels have won Wilson's last five starts despite his 5.67 ERA over his last six. He gave up four runs - three earned - in five innings of Los Angeles' 9-7 win over Kansas City on Friday, and he'll face a Texas lineup that may not have Josh Hamilton on Wednesday.

Hamilton left Tuesday's game because of a sinus infection after grounding out and drawing a walk. The major league leader with 42 homers also has battled a sore left knee recently.

Without Hamilton for most of the contest, the Rangers (87-60) couldn't produce much offense other than homers from Ian Kinsler and ex-Angel Mike Napoli in the third inning.

Napoli is hitting .463 with four homers in 13 games against his former team this season for Texas, which will send Derek Holland to the mound looking to rebound in the middle game of this series.

Holland (10-6, 4.50) has been pitching well of late, going 3-0 with a 2.83 ERA over his last five starts. He gave up two runs and struck out seven in seven innings of Texas' 5-4 loss to Cleveland on Thursday.

The left-hander, though, has lost both of his starts against the Angels this season, giving up six runs in 6 2-3 innings in a pair of July outings. He's 1-3 with a 7.04 ERA in his last five starts in Anaheim.

The Angels have won five of seven home meetings with the Rangers this season.

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