Just as the Los Angeles Angels seemed to be on their way to turning things around, the rival Texas Rangers snapped their modest win streak with a late home run.
Texas seeks to win its fifth straight Tuesday night against Los Angeles in the second of a three-game set at Angel Stadium.
The Rangers (13-6) won Monday's opener 7-6 with A.J. Pierzynski providing the go-ahead solo home run - his fourth - with two outs in the top of the ninth after Texas pulled even with a three-run seventh.
"We just kept fighting," manager Ron Washington said. "We had to scratch out some runs there at the end, but I felt like we had a chance all night."
Texas would seem to have a decent chance of extending its win streak to five considering scheduled starter Alexi Ogando (2-1, 3.32 ERA) has posted a 2.18 ERA in winning all three of his starts versus the Angels.
Los Angeles (7-11) figured to have some momentum heading into the opener after a three-game sweep of defending pennant winner Detroit, but got more mediocre pitching and another anemic performance from the middle of the batting order.
Starter Joe Blanton gave up four runs, while three of four relievers gave up one run each and the other - Scott Downs - was tagged with a blown save.
Meanwhile, Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo combined to go 0 for 13. But Josh Hamilton - who was bumped down to the No. 5 spot for the first time as an Angel - turned in his 16th career four-hit game. He had gone hitless in two of three games in the season's first series against his former club.
"I didn't feel any different tonight than I have in the last three weeks," said Hamilton, who entered Monday mired in a 1-for-21 slump. "I just got four hits. I'd much rather win a ballgame and get no hits."
Left-hander Jason Vargas (0-2, 6.75) will try to help the Angels bounce back, attempting to throw more like he did against the Rangers in his season debut. He's given up 10 runs and 19 hits in nine innings over two starts since holding Texas to one run and eight hits over 5 2-3 innings on April 5. The Twins chased him after 3 1-3 innings in an 8-6 loss at Minnesota last Tuesday.
"We definitely need to get deeper in the game and take some pressure off our bullpen," Vargas said. "Definitely let our hitters have some breathing room, too, so they're not feeling like they're out on the field for a long time, and they've got to come in and score a bunch of runs."
Like Vargas, Ogando is also coming off a difficult outing as the Chicago Cubs tagged him for five runs and six hits in only 2 1-3 innings Thursday. Ogando had given up only two runs in 16 2-3 innings over his first three starts but attributed some of his struggles to the condition of the mound in Chicago, which had been damaged by heavy rain.
Ian Kinsler, who has a .407 on-base percentage in his last six games, is 12 for 35 (.343) off of Vargas with five doubles.
Pierzynski is 5 for 13 with two homers and six RBIs in his last three contests.
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